Keeping the Ego in Check

February 22, 2021

I have a good friend who has been a wise mentor over the years and has helped open doors for me. Some years ago, he called to tell me that he had recommended me to be on the board of directors of a financial institution based in Boston, MA. He had given the CEO a few names but had listed me as his number one choice and to expect a call from the CEO soon.

I received the call about a week later, and the CEO and I had a delightful conversation. He invited me to lunch to meet in person with a couple of other key board members. The lunch was enjoyable, with the CEO telling me that he would be following up very soon. 

Not Our Choice

Several days later, the CEO called to tell me that they had decided to go with another person for the board. I was hugely disappointed knowing that my friend had recommended me as his number one choice. Having a great interview and lunch had given me the false assumption that I would be chosen for the position.  The CEO told me that they still wanted me to be involved with the company by serving on the advisory board.

Well, my ego raised its ugly head. Having been rejected for a place that I fully expected to have, I felt snubbed being offered a lesser position.  I politely told him that I was better suited for a decision-making role and didn’t think the advisory board position would be a fit. He reiterated his desire to have me involved with the company and to think about it for a couple of days. I half-heartedly agreed, knowing that my decision would not change.

I called my mentor to thank him for having recommended me.  I also told him about the advisory board offer and my intention to turn it down. He suggested that I give that more thought, and we talked about it a bit more. It became clear that my ego had gotten the best of me, and there were good reasons to accept the advisory board offer. With my ego in check, I called the CEO and told him that I would be honored to take the advisory board position. 

Be the Best

I decided to be the best advisory board member I could be. I attended all the meetings and followed the company in the financial news. I sent notes of congrats to the CEO when we had significant accomplishments.  I was happy that I had decided to come on board.

About a year later, the CEO and the senior vice president for business development invited me to lunch. I expected them to ask me to increase the business that I was doing with my new company.

After an enjoyable lunch, I waited for the increased business pitch to come. The CEO thanked me for the periodic notes I had sent and specifically mentioned the positive attitude I had shown in joining the company after not being invited to serve on the board. Waiting for the pitch, I was shocked when he said, “We have a member who is retiring unexpectedly, and we would like you to become our newest member of the board.”

On the Board

The board appointment was educational and enjoyable, and the compensation was quite generous. I can directly attribute the personal and financial success I enjoyed with the company to putting the ego monster back in its cage and making a conscious decision to change my attitude.

A Quote to Consider

“The ego is the single biggest obstruction to the achievement of anything.” 
-Richard Rose