- How does ego act as a driving force behind some of today’s social entrepreneurs?
- What are the contributing and inhibiting effects of ego on progress in social innovation?
Last time, I got interested in thinking about the role of ego in social entrepreneurship based on a tangentially related idea in Weekly Ponder #5, where I wondered why so many (social) changemakers tended to prefer to reinvent the wheel on social business models instead of more actively replicating successful other ones. One interesting thought was how much ego had to do with this tendency instead of other reasons. At the time, it felt useful to think a little bit more about this. But in order to do so, we had to spend some time pondering the nature of ego itself before we could make sense of it in the context of social entrepreneurship.
In Part 1 of this series, we talked about some basic definitions we wanted to use to discuss the pros and cons of having a strong ego, mostly from the broad perspective of how a healthy or unhealthy ego can contribute or take away from our general happiness. We also started to talk about why the discussion of ego might be timely. I believe it’s not just timely but necessary to understand that in the domain of social innovation and entrepreneurship, there exist some deep-seated cultural and attitudinal differences between people who came into the space from the charity/NGO space and those who came from the “business” world. For all the talk and excitement about what can be achieved when the two come together, we woefully neglect to talk about all the interesting differences we encounter between these well-meaning people – and from which we can arguably learn a lot.
And one of these differences, finally, is in my contention that while some (smaller) group of people are driven by a “purer” sense of altruism, many more are likely driven to an important degree by ego to engage in activities that are supposed to have the same outcome – the service to others. What happens when you look at two ways of motivation for the same good cause? How does this play out in various settings?
This I would like to at least touch on in this Part 2.