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Recognising the ego in business dealings

The ego is heard as a voice or felt as fear. It brings with it a sense of contraction and is never expansive, uplifting or joyful. Being fear based and lacking confidence it seeks safety and security. It never trusts and seeks to compensate through control and manipulation. In the absence of self-worth the ego seeks self-aggrandisement and can never be satisfied by material things. It craves more money, more status and more attention and when such things are forthcoming they are never enough.

The ego speaks from conditioning and misinterpretation of past experience. When triggered it is very strong and drives unwise, even hateful acts. It judges and complains and actually enjoys misery. Every time we pursue our egoic thoughts we enhance its false belief structure.

In business the ego is very active around money, especially when it comes to what we are paid for our services. How much we make represents our value in the eyes of our ego and if we feel underpaid, it resents it and makes a fuss. When pitching to new clients this can be a minefield. There is no established trust and if the prospective client is not willing or able to give an indication of their budget it is easy to misjudge both what is required and the price level at which to pitch the job. On the other hand, new clients are what we want and provided we do not set too much of a price precedent, we are keen to give a competitive quote in order to win the ongoing business.

In the mid 1990’s I pitched to be the principal speaker and organiser of an International Conference in Scandinavia. This was the first time I had been asked to be involved at such a major event. I had to lead 3 key sessions during the day. My wife Sue had to deliver a fourth presentation and brief and liaise with the supporting speakers. It was not just a matter of turning up and delivering an off the shelf presentation. It was above all a golden opportunity to put us in front of 200 potential new clients and at the time we did not have many orders in the pipeline.

We put together a great presentation but when it came to how much we were going to charge, my ego took control. I told myself I could not justify charging for preparation time. If I knew my subject any preparation would be minimal. I also undervalued the time needed to brief the other speakers, thinking it was just an administrative function. Above all, I was desperate to win the contract; it was such a terrific opportunity.

I presented our proposals to the Board of Directors in London. Our suggestions were well received, I convinced them I knew what I was talking about and could engage their members’ interest during what was to be the most important day of their year. Towards the end they asked me how much I wanted to charge. I hesitated as I had no idea of their expectations or budget and announced £1000 plus expenses. Much to my embarrassment they fell about with laughter, my quote was so funny they could not control themselves, they had expected to pay 3-5 times what I asked. They accused me of low-balling and I just wanted to disappear.

In this scenario I had totally conceded to my ego. I allowed myself to be dazzled by possible future business and the glory of being a keynote speaker and had ignored the reality of what was involved. The net result was a gross under pricing.