How to Use Your Ego to Your Advantage

You might be thinking, “Use my ego? What does that mean? I don’t want to have a big ego.”

A large ego definitely isn’t always the best thing to have, but a large and healthy ego that’s in check can be most beneficial. We often hear the term “ego” get thrown around in association with negative connotations. “His ego is too big. He needs to get his ego in check. His ego will be his downfall.”

A good friend once told me, “Your ego is going to take you places.” That statement took me by surprise. I’ve actively worked to keep my ego in check and had never thought of using it to help myself grow. However, I understood exactly what she meant when I began taking risks.

Your ego isn’t as bad as it’s put out to be. It can be self-destructive, but it doesn’t have to be. When kept in check and used strategically, it can help you through tough times and propel you toward success and happiness. As long as it doesn’t get the best of you, your ego can be your greatest asset.

Ask yourself this question:

If I’m capable of succeeding, why should I doubt myself?”

Let’s define “ego.” From

e·go [ee-goh, eg-oh]
noun, plural e·gos.
1. the “I” or self of any person; a person as thinking, feeling, and willing, and distinguishing itself from the selves of others and from objects of its thought.
2. Psychoanalysis. the part of the psychic apparatus that experiences and reacts to the outside world and thus mediates between the primitive drives of the id and the demands of the social and physical environment.
3. egotism; conceit; self-importance: Her ego becomes more unbearable each day.
4. self-esteem or self-image; feelings: Your criticism wounded his ego.

In a nutshell, your ego is your perception of yourself. We will focus on ego in the sense of self-esteem and self-image.

The ego is shaped by a variety of factors including friendships, family life, work, religions, what we see, what we do, how we’re treated, internal and external expectations—it can be negatively and positively influenced by essentially everything. Therefore, the ego is something flexible, something that can be expanded and depleted.

External factors such as rejection, verbal discouragement, or disappointment may damage and deplete your ego—you don’t have any control over these variables.

On the other hand, how your ego grows and how it’s used is completely under your control.

This is contrary to common advice, but surround yourself with people and do things that build up your ego. It’s okay. We have a plan. Although it’s easy to lose control of your ego or be confused as arrogant, don’t let that turn you off. As you’ll see, the pay-off of learning to use your ego strategically is well worth the struggle.

The most successful and influential people have big egos. Ron Rolheiser uses Mother Theresa as an example of someone who had a large, but healthy ego. Few people would initially agree, but, as stated by Rolheiser, “clearly, she had a huge ego—a powerful self-image that allowed her to stand before the whole world convinced of her truth, convinced of her worth, and convinced of her importance.” To have a large ego does not imply arrogance, but demonstrates pride in our past and a confidence in our ability and our self-worth.

It’s important to build up your ego, but it’s even more important to keep it in check.

How to Keep Your Ego in Check

1.Accept praise, but never believe it totally,” states John Baldino in an article from the Harvard Business Review. Praise naturally follows when you begin to go about life differently and experience success, but remember to humble yourself. Remember that there’s always more to learn, more to explore, and more to do.

You have to ask for help in order to continue growing. By asking for help, you demonstrate to yourself that you aren’t taking praise to heart. You demonstrate that you aren’t finished learning and you’ve accepted that others know things that you don’t. Baldoni also quotes:

“It’s okay if other people think you’re God, but you’re in trouble if you start believing it.”

2. Don’t compete with anyone but yourself. It’s easy to get caught up competing with your peers. Sometimes you may end up surpassing them, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that your work is done. There will always be someone else to surpass—yourself.

As soon as you make progress, your potential grows exponentially, and you’ll. once again, work to fill in that gap between who you are and who you want to be.

Make regular check-ins with your progress compared to a week ago, a month ago, a year ago. Celebrate your victories then think about how much further you have to go. Remain humble because you are not finished.

3. Pay attention to those you hold close. Don’t just take what they say with a grain of salt. Really consider what they have to say. Your close friends are the ones who aren’t scared to tell you the harsh truth. If your ego is growing too rapidly or getting out of hand, they’ll let you know.

Although your close friends may be the ones who will help build your ego reserve, they can cap it too.  They will remind you to practice humility.

How and When to Use Your Ego

How do you use your ego? Think of your ego as a reserve. It is a reserve of your successes and the adversities you have conquered. You know what internal and external hardships you had to face to get to where you are today. You know how much you’ve accomplished. You have quite a lot under your belt and you have a story to tell. Your journey really is something to be proud of—and you should be proud of it. You’ve come a long way.

As mentioned before, you ego reserve can and should be used, replenished, and depleted. Think of it like rationing water for survival. If you’re stranded in the desert with one gallon of water, you shouldn’t drink it all at once. You should drink it when you need to. Likewise, use your ego when you need to.

1. Use your ego when you feel the weight of the world on your shoulders. There will be moments that will feel like a personal all time low. You’ll feel like giving up, like you’re wasting your time—you’ll feel useless. There will be times when no amount of comforting words or ice cream can pull you back up. You can’t be uplifted unless if you truly believe in yourself and realize your greatness.

Take your ego, your successes, your knowledge of your progress and improvement and remind yourself of the amazing things you are capable of.

Remind yourself that this is just another phase and you’ll get through it just like you got through everything else life has thrown at you. Remind yourself of how much you have left to do. Don’t let this momentary difficulty hold you down.

Your ego can get you back up when everyone and everything else is getting you down.

2. Use your ego to face your fears. This doesn’t necessarily mean to face your darkest fear (although you definitely could). However, you’ll have impulsive moments.

You’ll want to go somewhere new, you’ll want to join a new organization, to attempt a new hobby, to speak to a stranger, but you won’t. You probably experience those impulses on a daily basis, but you hesitate to act on them.

The next time you realize you’re hesitating, remind yourself that you may not have that opportunity again. Take action. You can totally do it. You’ve already done so many difficult things, what makes you think you can’t do this one thing?

If you aren’t sure you can achieve something, well, you can. Just take that first step.

3. Use your ego to stop doubting your capabilities. When we think of doing something amazing, something that will change the world, we subconsciously imply to ourselves that that “amazing” thing is out of our capabilities. Why? Because it’s safe to say “I can’t do that,” and not attempt it.

It’s safe to doubt ourselves because, that way, we avoid the possibility of failure. However, that’s how we limit ourselves to sub-par work and influence.

Use your ego to convince yourself that you are capable of doing amazing things, that you are capable of changing the world. Changing the world doesn’t happen overnight. It starts off small and it happens gradually, one person at a time. Take that first step to do what you believe in and use your ego to sweep aside any self-doubt and keep pushing forward despite any discouragement.

Grow your ego, use it, replenish, deplete it, get discouraged, succeed, humiliate yourself, fail, then learn more. Just remember to keep pushing on.

You can be your own worst enemy or you can be your own biggest supporter. You decide.

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Humility, Ego, and Greatness by Ron Rolheiser
What is the Difference Between Ego and Pride?
How to Manage Your Ego so You Can Reach Your Full Potential by Srinivas Rao
Ways to Keep Your Ego In Check by John Daldoni
Ego and Competence by Joe Arrigo

Photo Source: David Ly Khim

The UP Lab Café Recap

The UP Lab Cafe Team

The UP Lab Café Team: David Ly Khim, Kendrick Wang, Jennifer Pinai, Jesse Oduro, Justin Ho.

Many of you reading this post may be UCI students and may have heard about The UP Lab Café. Here are the reasons for why we did it and a recap of our struggles, successes, and what we learned through the experience.

If you don’t know what The UP Lab Café is, we opened up a coffee shop out of my [David’s] apartment during final exams. We set up equipment to brew coffee and tea. This included two Melitta pour overs, an Aeropress,  some measuring cups, many water boilers, a load of Portola Coffee Lab coffee beans (which we had to restock three times), and tea. We used a form made via Google Drive to take orders and delivered drinks to students around campus.

The idea of delivering homemade drinks was inspired by Cora Chong, a recent UCI graduate. During the final exams week of fall quarter in 2012, Cora opened up “Cora’s Caffeine Crunch” with her friends out of her own apartment and sold various coffee and tea drinks and baked goods. After obtaining Cora’s permission, I opened up “David’s Pop-Up Coffee Shop” the following winter quarter with a similar menu to Cora’s shop. During the previous quarter, with the launch of The UP Lab the week before exams, Justin and I decided to take the coffee shop to a larger scale by having a team and reaching out to more people. The result was The UP Lab Café team (pictured above).


It’s slightly random pairing beverage deliveries with the mission of The UP Lab, but it makes plenty of sense.

Personally, I’ve found that when my friends and I are extremely focused on our studies, the last thing we want to do is leave our seat to do something else. At The UP Lab, we understand that some students actually study very hard and it may not be convenient for some to go to a coffee shop because of distance and time. Think about it. When you go out to buy coffee, you have to consider the travel time to get to the coffee shop, the wait in line to order, the wait for your drink, the journey back to your study location, and the time it takes to refocus on what you’re studying. That’s at least thirty minutes–maybe even an hour.

Although students had to pay for the drinks, we provided a convenience by delivering. Students did not have to leave their studies. I supported the studies of students and wanted to make their study experience as enjoyable (or less painful) as possible. We believed that convenience was worth the cost for students and it was worth our time to provide it.

It also proved to be great opportunity for us to spreadIMG_2418 the idea of The UP Lab. We had ordered our stamp and it came in just in time for the opening of the café. Each cup was stamped with our logo with displayed the URL to our page. Along with the café, we released a post with study tips to help students prepare for their exams. The post was seen by over a thousand viewers (some were international!) and we were able to reach a larger audience than we had initially expected. The amount of support for The UP Lab was also unbelievable. We were contacted with comments of excitement and support and questions of how individuals could contribute to the project.

However, with an informal café and a lack of experience in managing such an operation, there were a few bumps in the road.

1. We had moments when we were confused about which orders were being taken care of, which were going to be delivered, and who was delivering. There was a lack of communication. I would be making a drink and Justin would start on another drink. It would turn out we were taking care of the same order. It became frustrating. We all made it clear that we had to communicate better with each other. It was comforting to know that we could be clear and slightly blunt about what we could do better without anyone taking anything personally. That level of comfort comes with a good team.

2. An unexpected and overwhelmingly large volume of pre-orders were submitted on the second night and we struggled to keep up with it. We took pre-orders, which meant that any orders submitted before opening (8pm) were pre-orders and would be made before other orders. The large amount of pre-orders meant we could not get to the regular orders that were submitted when we opened. This put us behind schedule the entire night. To top it off, we ran out of coffee. We closed early that night. We re-grouped to discuss the situation and how to handle such situations in the future. We decided to no longer take pre-orders.

3. It was difficult for us to deal with less-than-understanding customers. Due to the nature of scaling up, we ended up having many customers we didn’t know. This meant they would be more critical of our quality and delivery time—we did not expect delays to be taken lightly. We experienced quite a few unsatisfied customers during our rush night. Additional stress came with the thought that customers would be strangers.


However, we learned from our mistakes and experiences and quite a few good things came out of the café.

1. We learned. A lot. We learned how to brew coffee on a larger scale—not in large batches, but in large volumes. We learned how to work with disappointed and unsatisfied customers. We learned about marketing via social networks and the use of promotions. We learned to communicate better. Each person on the team had a moment during which s/he had to take the initiative and lead the team. We all gained experience in managing a team. We learned from and about each other through random conversation during deliveries and downtime. Through this, friendships became stronger, team communication improved, chemistry was better, and we worked together almost seamlessly.

2. Quality customer service was always priority despite difficult situations. The customer service that was delivered was due to a team that worked together efficiently and seamlessly. We also dressed semi-formally during our deliveries. I believe this contributed to the customer’s experience. It’s much nicer to receive a delivery from someone who is decently dressed than from someone who looked like they just got back from the gym. It’s as if you’re receiving a fancy, UP-scale product (get it?). It was also fun dressing up.

However, apologies go to customers who ordered during our bad night. Although you may have been disappointed, we did as much as we could to make it up to you. We learned quite a few lessons at the expense of a few unsatisfied customers.

3. The idea of The UP Lab was spread to a large audience. We simply want to help people achieve their goals in life and become successful in whatever manner they define that term. We want to help others find happiness in what they are passionate about and let them know that there are people who support their aspirations. I think it’s safe to say that the ideas of The UP Lab were sufficiently shared with the community, or at least the UCI campus.


On the last night, we re-stocked on supplies and made large batches of coffee and tea and set up shop at an on-campus study lounge to give out free drinks. We posted our location on Facebook and walked around the study lounge with a sign directing students to our location. It worked. We ran out of drinks in a matter of minutes and got to chat with a few people who were curious about what we were doing through The UP Lab.

It all started with the idea of wanting to help students and, with that idea, the appreciation of coffee and the dream of someday running a coffee shop. We wanted to help students by making and delivering drinks to them personally so they wouldn’t have to waste time going out on their own. We wanted to spread the idea of an UnParalleled lifestyle of putting in work to achieve your goals. We wanted to support students through one of many rough weeks of their college careers with caffeinated drinks as well as verbal and written encouragement.

Although the road was bumpy, resulting in a few unsatisfied customers, we believe that The UP Lab did manage to help some students get through their final exams.

I’d like to leave you with a personal message:

No one on The UP Lab Café Team really knew what they were getting themselves into. They volunteered to be a part of the project because they believed in the cause. They knew that they would learn from a new experience. I, on the other hand, had an idea of what to expect because I had some experience. However, I knew it would be completely different—and it was. Was I scared of the possible outcomes? Yes. Was I hesitant? Oh yes. Were we occasionally stressed and frustrated? No doubt. But we still did it. We knew that although failure was possible, but success was also possible. We knew that, in any case, we would be helping students and it would be a learning experience for us and we would come out as better people with more developed skills.

If you have an idea—no matter how crazy it is—do it. If you don’t think you can do it alone, talk to someone about it. Like Kendrick said, find someone who supports you and believes in your idea, then collaborate to make it happen! I promise that you’ll learn something new and a lot of good will come out of it.

– David

Thank you all so much for your support and contributions toward The UP Lab! The encouraging words have motivated us to continue spreading the idea of positivity and passion and perseverance.


Photo source: Jennifer Pinai, Justin Ho

On the Rise: Omeid Heidari – Nursing without Borders

I have a hole in my chest,” he smiled, “Look press here.” Yup, that was weird. He has this thing called pectus excavatum which results in an indented sternum (the center of your chest bone). It’s not painful nor is it really relevant to the article.

Omeid Heidari is a graduating Nursing Science major at UCI who just received a full time position at Children Hospital of Orange County’s (CHOC) intensive care unit (ICU). This position requires the best of nurses to work in one of the more stressful environments in the hospital. Not only is it tough for a new grad nurse to attain a position at a hospital, it is rare to land a position in a pediatrics intensive care unit. The position requires the nurse to be poised and confident in his/her skill to work one of the most stressful units. Omeid definitely has earned it.

He has been actively involved in many of the school’s clubs and student government and somehow finds ways to stay sane and grounded throughout the stress and frustrations that come day to day. Currently, he’s leading his own research in junction with the Nursing and Public Health Departments at UCI. He’s working with a nurse practitioner run clinic in Santa Ana to obtain data on health education being administered at the elementary and middle school level. Despite being on a low budget, he is working to interview parents and school faculty in hopes of finding a more accessible and relative way to spread the awareness of reproductive and developmental health education. He chose to survey the ZIP code in Santa Ana with the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies.

My goal is to educate these teens in sexual awareness and help change the way they are receiving the information. I’m looking to change the class structure to make it more appealing to the students, so they can grasp the concepts better.”

He felt that if he concentrate on applying public health concepts to his nursing practices, he can slowly chip at society’s stereotypical views on nursing. He spoke at TEDxUCIrvine 2013 about this specific topic to spread awareness about the power of the nursing field. Among his many goals, he plans on working as a staff nurse. Once he becomes more comfortable in the field and has found a platform for research, he wants to pursue graduate education in Nursing and Public Health with an emphasis on health policy. Omeid believes that the innate care of nursing makes them well adept to create and implement effective health policy.  

I hope to work for a national or even international health organization like Center for Disease Control or World Health Organization. Theses organizations would parallel my goals to participate in outreach work in community policy. I know that the nursing field can play a strong role in advocating for those who need healthcare the most.”

With such solid humanitarian goals, I was curious to see what influenced him to become who he was. He told me that many of his personality traits come directly from his immediately family. “They all have played significant roles in my life.” He also told me that his best friend and girlfriend Heidi gave him confidence to take on a new city (Irvine) and make a name for himself.

Growing up in Fresno, I was an awkward kid who didn’t have a direction. Upon attending UCI, Heidi helped me understand that I have a potential to have a positive affect on people and communities.”

His path in finding the potential in himself wasn’t simple. He spent his college career balancing all of his extracurriculars with his academics, research, family and friends like many college students. Despite all of these involvements he reminded himself to stay true to his beliefs.

“2 things I’d advise my freshman self. 1) Don’t take anything for granted, the 3-5 years go by fast. Live day to day and cherish the memories. 2) Have fun and go do something that you are afraid of because that’s how you grow.”

He worked on putting himself into uncomfortable situations to test whether he could grow or learn from it. Studying abroad in Chile, he collided with the sense of traveling alone, meeting new people, submerging in a new culture, and not knowing the local language (his Spanish is terrible; I know because I was in the same study abroad group). 

It [studying abroad] turned out to be the best decision I’ve has made in my college career and has given me confidence to take on more opportunities with less fear.”

At times when he is overwhelmed with responsibilities, whether it be unforeseen obstacles in research or a stressful shift at the hospital, he has a handful of go-to outlets to help let out his steam.

I make time to exercise. I’m really liking cross-fit. I also try to run and bike as much as possible,” he pats me on the back. The two of us rode the Irvine Back Bay route every week for a couple of months.  He believes in the therapeutic power of exercise and makes sure it is in his schedule during the week.  Too often we tell ourselves we will work out, but get bogged down by appointments and responsibilities.  Putting a specific time frame to go to the gym or on a run will help keep the exercise consistent.

“I’d also rather talk or write off my frustrations to prevent them from building up in my head. With my friends I like to hang out and debrief over a cup of coffee. Also expressing my challenges with others over a pint… only if you’re over 21… helps communalize the struggle, making the issues not as daunting. Understanding that you’re not alone in the struggle helps bring light to most issues.”

Omeid challenges himself to find ways to improve everyday. He takes steps to grasp opportunities around him that would benefit him in the long run. Despite the obstacles and frustrations, his resilience has assured him that he’s on the right path uniquely designed for himself.

“About how 2 years ago, I was pretty intimidated and overwhelmed with the academic and clinical load from my nursing classes. I strove to gain more experience, take small progressive steps, and learn as much as I could to help better prepare myself. Now I’m more relaxed and confident in my abilities during my clinicals.”

“Having a positive state of mind is when I falter from who I want to be and find the strength to keep moving forward. Success is pushed forward from within to leap boundaries. Little by little I know I’m slowly reaching my bigger goals; understanding that this pursuit will be worth the hard work drives me to progress infinitely. Doing what you love is the key. Undergraduate experience is a grand opportunity to find what you’re looking for by asking questions and seeking out new experiences. Everywhere around you, you are surrounded by amazing individuals. Find out what you want to do, and do something about it.”



– ASUCI Academic Affairs
+ Speakers and Debates Commissioner
+ Commissioner of the Year

– ASUCI Student Services: Intern

– ASUCI Legislative Council: College of Public Health Sciences Representative

– Public Health Association
+ Executive intern
+ Executive VP

– UCI Outreach Clinic: Nursing Liason

– UROP fellowship + SURP + IDSURE
+ Public Health and Nursing
+ presented at 3 different conferences

– UROP Researcher of the Month 

– Published in the International Journal of STI and AIDS

– TEDxUCIrvine: spoke on experiences of being a student nurse

– Received the Program in Nursing Science Undergraduate Leadership Award 


Do you know someone who has an UnParalleled perspective and inspires you to become better?  Contact us with your suggestions for upcoming interviews!

Pictures Sources: Omeid Heidari, Justin Ho