Ego vs Self Esteem; The illusive difference

Ego and Self-esteem are not the same.  Having a big ego is a negative trait.  Having high self-esteem is a positive trait.  Many have a big ego and they think they are building their self-esteem.   In reality, the opposite is happening, the bigger the ego, the lower the self-esteem.  And vice versa, the higher the self-esteem, the smaller the ego.

Ego is an inflated fake self-image.  Like thinking you are always right or thinking that you are above everybody else.

How to know if you have a big ego? Most likely you cannot tell.  People with big ego are so blinded by their grandiose self-image that they cannot see the difference between the ego and their real self.  They actually cannot see their real selves.  All they see is their ego and they think it is “self.”

But you can easily spot others with a big ego.  People who come across as arrogant, manipulative, selfish, “always right.” are probable culprits.  You know the people you can never win an argument with? because they always twist the truth so they end up being right? Bingo.

Self-esteem on the other side of the spectrum is a feeling of content and acceptance with self as is.  It is not complacency.  It is more of seeing self as is, with its strengths and flaws, and accepting that while we can seek to become better people, it is OK to have flaws.  It makes us human.  Most people will testify to this statement, but few act upon it.

How to know if you have high self-esteem? It is ironic, but people with high self-esteem accept others as they are.  They are not critical.  They do not feel the need to judge others.  To the opposite of big ego people who are very critical and always judge others.  Nobody measures to their standards.  Even if they admire someone it will be short-lived.  Soon enough they will find a flaw and regret ever liking the person.

Big ego wants to change others to his or her liking.  They will always tell you how you need to be and what your faults are. High self-esteem people like you as you are.  You are OK to them, even with your flaws.

Egotistical people have low self-esteem.  I know some might disagree but I can prove it.  High self-esteem requires understanding self as is.  Then accepting self.  that is not possible with a big ego.  Ego draws a fake self-image of perfection, so understanding self is impossible. On the other side of the coin, High self-esteem leads to a smaller ego.  Because there is no need to “feed” on the lies the ego tells us: that we are the best, the smartest, the rightest, etc.

Modern talent analytics can uncover how likely someone has a big ego based on their performance style.  As would be expected, “Commanding” people are more likely to have a big ego.  I do talent analytics assessments and I notice a higher probability of ego related issues with commanding people.

Self-esteem, on the other hand, I did not find tied to any specific performance style.  I found it tied to understanding self and accepting self.  Regardless of your performance style or motivators, if you understand and accept self, you have high self-esteem.  It is amazingly simple.

If you like to learn more about the talent analytics I do, please visit my site at


Comments (9)

  1. Very helpful. Thank you very much. Could you recommend any book about this topic, especially how to boost the self-esteem and lower the ego?

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