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Episode 17 - Egotistical or Confident?


Welcome to Episode 17

When is talking about our strengths, wins or abilities egotistical versus being confident? Rhiannon discusses the purpose of our ego, the importance of becoming our own advocate, and the science and art of being able to share what we do well while remaining likeable. 

Covering social contracts, societal pressures, Tall Poppy Syndrome, individual triggers and our biological need to be connected and part of a tribe, Rhiannon also covers 5 tips to follow as a sense check to confidently speak about what you do well and want to be known for. 

In this podcast, you'll learn:
  • The different perspectives from which to view ego

  • Why we label somebody as having an ego

  • What's happening to the person with an ego

  • What's happening to the audience of the person with an ego

  • Top tips to sense check your pitch

Episode Transcript:

Egotistical or Confident?

EP #17


“Do I need a life coach?” You’re listening to Episode 17, with Rhiannon Bush


Welcome to the Do I need a life coach? Podcast. We’re here to discuss the ins- and outs- of the life coaching industry and give you tools to use, to see for yourself. I’m your host, Rhiannon Bush. Mother, management consultant and a passionate, certified life coach.


When it comes to coach-land, we talk a lot about our ego. We talk a lot about what our ego is, its purpose, and that everybody has one. Coming back to core needs, which I have talked about in previous podcasts, everybody has a need for both being together, accepted and connected to a group to an extent, and also to feel unique and special and significant within that group. So we all have a desire to fit in, and to be accepted, but we also have, on the flipside of the coin, a desire to feel special, unique, and to some extent, an individual. Keep in mind that everybody’s needs for these will be on varying scales and specific to them – you may have a very strong need to fit in and be accepted by say your peer group or your family, or you may be a slightly more domineering person who is happy to rebut the status quo or be a bolder change-maker. There will be times when your pendulum may swing from one end of that spectrum to another, but everybody’s need is specific to them, depending on the season of life they’re in or the context in which that group exists.


Why I wanted to talk about ego today, is because I’ve just started working with an organisation who seem to have a real block around talking about what they do, and they do amazing work across many, many clients – as they’re an agency, but they work with these clients who also do incredible things that contribute so much to the world. Sometimes, these organisations are highly niched, sometimes they’re as standard as can be, but the organisation I’m working with run incredible programs of work to help their clients level-up and become more efficient and optimised to do what they do better. And very few people know about it.


Because… this organisation won’t actually talk about what they do, the impact they’ve had and how amazing they are. And I think that’s rooted in a fear of being inverted commas “egotistical”. It’s really, really interesting and I hadn’t thought too much about it, so I thought I’d make it my next podcast as it’s got me thinking about what makes something egotistical versus simply being self-assured or confident, and able to own and discuss the work that you do. Especially in a business environment, right, they’re trying to get ongoing work, they’re trying to appeal to new clients, so being able to talk about what you do and how well you do it without coming across as egotistical is a really important skill to have. For any business owner, for a coach with a coaching practise, or for anybody trying to sell themselves, whether it be to a prospective or existing partner in a relationship, and idea, in actual sales… being able to sell yourself is a really great skill to have that will have a direct impact on how successful you are or are not.


So I really wanted to talk about it today because even though I feel like I have a pretty healthy understanding of ego, why it’s there, what it means and how it works… I wanted to understand a little more about it. So I hope this helps you too. After much consideration, I’ve decided that I believe when considering our ego we can look at it from two sides. The first, is the side of the person who has an ego and the second, is the perspective of the person who is on the receiving end of the person with the said ego… and, there are social contracts that define a inverted commas “ego” and there are also highly subjective factors at play. To sum it up, there is a whole heap of grey area when it comes to ego and deciphering it.


I asked my partner Damien what he thinks about ego, as he’s a coach as well, we’ve had similar training. We debated about what ego is for us. I’ve always thought ego was our self-talk, our reasoning, our inner-wisdom. Our ego always knows when we’re lying to ourselves, just as it knows when we’re telling the truth. It’s our ego that drives us to take action to achieve our goals, to compete, to fight, to give up… just as it’s our ego that tells us to lie in order to protect us or save face. Damien didn’t think our ‘ego’ was the same as our self-talk or inner voice, but tied ego to saving face in our attempt to avoid of shame or judgement from others.


Typically, when somebody is described as having a big ego, or being egotistical, or egocentric, it is used in a derogatory way to define somebody who has an inflated opinion of themselves. Somebody who thinks they’re above their station.


I’ve found when somebody is being egotistical, it comes from one of two places.  Sometimes, it stems from a foundation of scarcity. And scarcity is a fear base, around, “there’s not enough”, or “I’m not enough”, and therefore the way that it is said comes across hyper inflated… because it is. It’s an overcompensation for fear around, “I’m not enough”, “it’s not enough”, “I don’t measure up”, “will this person or this audience think I’m worthy and believe what it is that I’m telling them”. And most of the time the answer is no. Because everything they’re saying reeks of inauthenticity and is self-proclaiming. Without the foundation of what somebody spruces being based in fact, truth and lived experience, we are highly conditioned if not on a conscious level, at the very least on an unconscious level, to read it as complete BS.


I remember a guy I used to live with, he was lovely but had this exact air about him. It turns out he was a chronic liar. And every 18 months or so, he would uproot his entire life, move to a different friendship group, different “tribe” you might say, and start all over again when the web of lies he’d woven started to catch up to him. He was very, very good at lying and coming across as confident, even suave, but eventually, he was always found out.


Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met people who think they’re God’s gift. And this is the second lens to consider ego through. The thing about God’s gifts, is while I would say yes, they have a big ego, I would also say they have complete disregard for what anyone else thinks about them entirely. And that’s not routed in scarcity, that’s actually just them thinking very, very highly of themselves and simultaneously disregarding anything and everything happening in the tribe and world around them. They are the centre of their universe and everything else must shift or move to make way for them. When I’ve met people like that, in the past typically, they are very successful because there’s no doubt within them about their abilities, their self-worth, their appearance, but there is definitely questions around their likeability. In my experience, those kinds of people will appeal to the minority. They may have a few close people in their lives, but people will be attracted to them for reasons other than genuine care and because they make you feel good… because they don’t. They make themselves feel good, and that can come at the expense of others around them if they haven’t found a different way to satisfy it.


I believe Australian society sees people like that as born leaders, as heads of movements, as powerful, because they are typically quite assertive, they get things done, they don’t dwell in emotion long enough to be swayed into indecision. I have no evidence to support that, by the way, it’s just an observation I’ve made by working with many, many organisations both personally and in agency environments. On a DISC diamond, they are a D or dominant character. By the way, the leadership aspect of what I just said is false. But because somebody like that comes in, dominates their space, and takes action because they are task oriented, accountable and they get things done, they are highly regarded by upper levels of organisations because it’s good for the bottom line.


When I was studying musical theatre, I had an amazing teacher named Peter Rutherford. And he was explaining that, sometimes, when American comedians came out to Australia, sometimes they weren’t very well received, because instead of being self-deprecating in their humour, they would actually insult the audience thinking it was funny. It was a bit of a cultural difference and the Australian audience typically appreciates self-deprecation in the form of humour over feeling like they are being personally attacked. It’s one of the reasons that a lot of off-Broadway shows are trialled here in Australia as a premier - because the Australian audience is quite a good measure of whether other countries will receive it well or not and therefore how successful it is going to be.


Particularly in Australia we have our famous tall poppy syndrome and being egocentric in our society is acceptably taboo and doesn’t faire very well for social acceptance and likeability. It’s a matter of time before somebody growing too far above their station is publicly shamed, bringing them back down to the common masses. I’ve mentioned Tony Robbins before and he speaks about ego, he says that Tall Poppy Syndrome exists in every culture. Our social contracts state that having an ego is bad, and by the simple act of stating that someone has an ego or calling it out in another way, you are effectively segregating that person from the tribe. This public shaming gives them an opportunity to stop, reflect on and then if need be, change their behaviour in order to re-enter the tribe, should they choose to.


On the flipside of this conversation is the recipient. So while we’ve got somebody who we can label as having a big ego out of over-compensation and false self-inflation deriving from scarcity… or a genuinely self-centred person who demonstrates a blatant disregard for the perspective and feelings of those around them, let’s talk about the recipient for a minute.


In a large group, as I’ve mentioned, there are social contracts. But if we look inwards, at ourselves, we need to ask when we would label somebody with an ego and why?


We will typically be triggered if somebody says that they are good at something or spruce their success or capabilities in an area that we not only feel deficient, but want to be sufficient. Right? Somebody talking about how good they are isn’t going to matter to us, if we don’t really care to be good at that too. Or… if there’s not one of these three factors:

  1. They have qualities we want ourselves

  2. They have qualities we absolutely detest and do not want

  3. We recognise a part of them in us


For instance when I began my coach training, I knew early that I was a very good coach. I instantly felt like it was my inverted commas “calling” for lack of a better term, and I felt very comfortable and in my element doing it. The results and insights clients of mine experienced with me as their coach confirmed my belief about my capabilities and that I’m a great coach. And while a little awkward in the beginning, I now have no problem saying that out loud and really owning it.


Especially starting my own practice where you don’t have leadership or colleagues patting you on the back, I needed to confirm within myself that yes I’m a life coach, yes I’m a very good life coach and yes I’m worth paying for. Then client results would follow.


Now, is that egotistical or fact? It depends entirely on the recipient. What that triggered in fellow coaches at the time was a mixture of responses. Sometimes, people shunned me completely. Barely spoke to me. Other times I had people become a little clingy. Their reaction to me depended on their comfort level with their own ability, how proactive they were wanting to be about modelling, learning and aligning themselves with people of similar skill sets (by the way, this happens all the time, just look at clicks in schools or workplaces), and others needed to protect their feelings. Their ego had come out and was protecting them from fears they had – whether they had a lack of self-worth, saving face if they didn’t think they were a good coach, or other deficiencies that they believe they had. So often, it’s more about the audience member of the person who appears to have an ego, than it is about the person and their skills that what they’re sprucing about in the first place.


What I know is that saying you’re good and being good is the difference. If you say you’re good but aren’t, you’ll be found out. And then you’ll definitely be labelled as somebody who has an ego. But if you say you’re good, and actually are good, you’ll be labelled as confident and owning your skills, value and worth.


Especially as women, we are not taught how to own what we do and do well. We are certainly not educated or encouraged to talk about it loudly and proudly. If we do, we are seen as overly confident, or assertive, or as I’ve commonly heard, a “ball-buster”. But women I’ve seen truly own their power, and not succumb to societal contracts to submit, conform or adhere has always been a source of absolute empowerment provided they’ve been ethical. Women I’ve known and encountered personally but also famous women such as Jo Wise, Brene Brown, Sheryl Sandburg, Matilda Wand, Michelle Obama, Kate Dowling, Brooke Castillo, Alanna Hannaford, Grace Guild, Alex Knysh, Shelly Favaloro, Jacinta Robertson, Nikki Trollope. Women who forge a path for others by being true to who they are. The thing about these women is that they all do so with such different energies. Some are powerful and commanding, while others are very feminine and politely assertive.


It's not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s also reading your audience, to understand the context in which you’re speaking. Everybody can benefit from learning how to articulate their strengths – being able to comfortably talk about what capabilities we possess that we take pride in and care for others to know about us. We should all learn to sell our strengths and our ideas and then choose when and how we do it, if we choose to. Especially when we’re in business, we need to be able to talk about what we do, we need to be able to talk about it well.


To do this, here are the top tips:

  1. Base it in fact. If we talk about what we do in a factual way, the facts are the facts. There is no emotion involved in facts. So how can facts be egocentric? By talking about it factually, the only time we’ll ever be labelled as egotistical is when the recipient is triggered.  

  2. Write it down. Getting it down on paper will help you see it from a different (i.e. another person’s) perspective. It will help you tailor it to be received the way you intend it to be, and not leave it wide open for interpretation from the place of other people’s scarcity, fear or deficiencies. Gaddie pitch

  3. Rehearse. If you rehearse it, you can make sure your inflections and phrasing is on point. I highly recommend recording yourself and hearing it back. We’re so used to our own voices, we can think we sound a certain way, but we don’t (hence why most people hate the sound of their own voice on a recording).

  4. Practice on forgiving audiences first. Test your sprucing on people who you know and who you know will forgive you first. Or who you can easily say “hey, this is what I’m doing, how did it sound”. Pick your person carefully – you want brutal honesty.

  5. Always consider it from different perspectives. If you were somebody passing by as this conversation was taking place, how would it sound with little-to-no context? Then tailor your message again.


Remember, your ego is there to protect you. Detach from the haters and understand that while you can control your message, you can’t control their reaction. And I’m so sure you have mad skills that should be shared with the world, because people need your skills but don’t know you possess them. So get going!


Have a great week my friends.




Hey! Before you go, I always find reviews really helpful when looking for new information or insights…


I you’ve found this podcast valuable, please take a minute to write a quick review about what you’ve found most beneficial for you, so other people can benefit from your insights, and listen in too. I would LOVE that!

Also, if there are any topics you’d like me to cover specifically about life coaching or the life coaching industry, visit to contact me. Thanks for joining and I’ll see you in the next episode of Do I Need A Life Coach?!



Please note, this transcription may not be exact.

Questions? Topic Ideas?

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