Don’t Let Your Ego Get In The Way

Like many of you, I’ve been watching the Chicago Bulls documentary, “The Last Dance” on ESPN. This docuseries follows the Chicago Bulls during their 1997-1998 season and highlights stories from a few of the key players.  

As you watch it, you’ll pick up on various egos and attitudes. For example, the documentary highlights Scottie Pippen along with his childhood, college career and his experience with the Chicago Bulls. Eventually, Scottie signs a contract that wasn’t the “best” decision for his career. Toward the end of the season, Scottie decides to put his personal goals ahead of the team’s.  

In 1994, the Chicago Bulls were playing against the New York Knicks when the game was 102-102 with 1.8 seconds remaining. During this season, Michael Jordan was retired, and Pippen was now considered as the best player on the team. At that point, Coach Phil Jackson created a play that would require Pippen to pass the ball to Tony Kukoc for the winning shot. Pippen chose to sit out for the play instead of putting his ego aside and benefiting the team. Tony Kukoc ended up making the final shot and won the game of the Bulls. This is a story I often share with my kids because it has stuck with me for a long time.  

Michael Jordan wasn’t too thrilled when the Chicago Bulls started talking about hiring Phil Jackson and building out a new offense. This would mean that Jordan wouldn’t be the scoring champ and that it would be passed along to other players. In this situation, Jordan put his ego aside and decided to help his fellow players – eventually, this helped the team take on new heights. The decision wasn’t easy, but he let other players develop around him; instead of giving up altogether. Michael Jordan is a fierce competitor and he doesn’t let his ego get in the way of benefitting the team’s goals.  

During this time at home, I recently re-watched Bohemian Rhapsody and the ending stuck with me.  There is a scene where Freddie comes back and tells his bandmates that his solo projects weren’t what he was expecting. No one wanted to push back on his ideas or help him grow – instead, they wanted to please him. Eventually, Queen reformed and delivered a legendary performance at Live Aid. 

Both messages have stuck with me as we’re running teams here at Service Express. As we’re going through this challenge together, I would be struggling if I had to make every decision on my own and I would fail poorly. I enjoy having a team that I can lean on, collaborate with and gain better ideas from.  

Being a team player, working together and relying on others is a sign of strength. I think the strongest teams channel their egos and redirect them for the benefit of the group. If you have some spare time, I recommend watching both films!