The Two Failures That Finally Killed My Toxic Ego

In March 2020 I failed two things that meant something to me.

I got rejected from Ted-X. I didn’t even make the second round. Okay not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, I get it. Worse though, I got passed over for a promotion in favor of someone from outside my company. Ouch.

In retrospect, these two events ended up being the proverbial final straws.

A few months before this I’d reached an unhealthy crossroads. Fortunately, I chose the route that involved reclaiming control of my life. I started exercising again. I lost over 50 pounds. I quit drinking. I changed my diet.  

Truth be told, I was feeling pretty good about my progress. I had been to the Wilderness but had come back, maybe even stronger and more resilient than before.

And then stone-cold rejection. Twice. Took the “L”. Then took another one.

It sucks to suck. But in that moment of self-doubt, I also found the answer:

Don’t like it? Get better.

I got the right kind of mad. The motivating kind.

But something else happened. I had been beholden to a toxic and arrogant ego for far too long. Those two failures, which came quickly after the death of my father and the birth of my second son, had a profound effect on me.

I had been humbled in more ways than one, and I was tired of making excuses. I let go of the ego.

I stopped trying to avoid failure and instead embraced it.

The funny thing is, when we stop trying to protect our fragile false confidence, something else starts to take its place. We automatically gravitate towards action that generates actual confidence, the real kind that only comes from work.

Now less than a year later things are starting to look very different in what’s shaping up to be one of the most interesting and fulfilling periods of my life.

And it all started with Day 1.

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