roseanna sunley business and entrepreneurship

It’s a negative word, narcissist. It’s not an adjective that people like to use to describe themselves.


…I have narcissistic traits

In the last year of my previous company, E-Dressage Ltd, I had decided that I was going to push the business hard and ultimately make-it-or-break-it.

Sadly, I broke it – and it went up with a bang!

When I announced the company’s closure and put it into voluntary liquidation, I received so many lovely messages from people offering me their condolences and wishing me the best for the future.

Literally hundreds of them!

It took me a week to get through, and even then, there were some that I didn’t manage to get back to before the servers were shut down.

Amongst all the pleasant messages, there were, of course, a few that were not so nice.

One message was particularly nasty. The lady called me a narcissist then told me to Google it.

I didn’t reply to the email. With the limited time that I had, I much preferred to respond to those that gave me their best wishes, rather than argue with someone.

But the word ‘narcissist’ always stayed in my head, and not for the reasons you might think.

Here is the snippet from the email.

“I hope you have learnt a huge lesson from this Roseanna – I know I have. Perhaps a suggestion is not to believe you are bigger than what you actually are and taking everyone else along with it. Sadly that is a huge narcissist trait – Google it! “

I sit here and read it over and over again, and to me, it seems as though she is telling me off because I believed in myself…

…because I believed that I could do it and because I picked up the bat and took a swing at it.

Is that a bad thing?

What is a narcissist?

After following her instructions and indeed Googling the definition of narcissism, these are the traits that I found.

  1. A person who has an excessive interest in or admiration for themselves
  2. A person who is overly self-involved, vain, or selfish
  3. Receiving gratification from the admiration of his or her own physical or mental attributes

Basically, someone who believes that they are better than everyone else and wants everyone else to sit and ooh and ahh at them in admiration.

In an extreme sense, all of these characteristics are bad traits. But on the lighter end of the scale, I think some of them are favorable and almost necessary in entrepreneurship.

Allow me to go through each point individually and explain.  

1 – ‘Narcissists believe they are better’

Example A – To start a business you need to believe in yourself. Period. 

You need to believe that you are good enough to do it and you need to believe that with every brain cell and fiber in your body. Because when things get tough, and when people around you are telling you that you should quit, you need to be able to believe in yourself with enough conviction to keep going.

Example B – You’re going to have to stand toe to toe with your competitors.

These competitors have been in business a lot longer than you, that have more experience than you, and they have a hell of a lot more resources than you.

With all of that going against you, you need to believe that you can offer something better, because if you don’t believe that, then why should your potential customers?

If you lack this conviction, if you don’t believe that you can bring something better to the table then you will struggle in the world of entrepreneurship.

2 – ‘Narcissists are selfish’

As an entrepreneur, you need to look after your own business and interests before you can look after anyone else.

To use a common and practical example, if you were a mother aboard a plane and the oxygen masks dropped down from the ceiling, you are instructed to put your own mask on first before putting one on your child. The mother must take care of herself before she can take care of her offspring – if she were to pass out, it may be game over for both of them.

The same rules apply in business.

There is an unwritten rule that before you pay any of your staff or business overheads, you must first pay yourself.

A wise man once said, ‘you can’t help those in need if you are a person in need’.

On the other side of the coin, there are philanthropist business owners out that that earn millions, if not billions, and each year give a substantial amount of money to charities, organizations, and good causes.

The charitable donations from Bill Gates alone have totaled more than $50 billion. Do you think that any of this would have been possible if he didn’t concentrate on his own interests and businesses first? After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.

3 – ‘Narcissists need admiration’

These days, social media plays a huge role for any business or entrepreneur.

We want people to follow us, to like our posts, and to engage with us. We’re going to put our best foot forward and tell people why they should be following us, why we are better, why they should like us, and how we can help them.

The majority of entrepreneurs just want to inspire people and show them what is possible. But in order for you to be inspired by someone, you first need to admire them.

A motivational speaker, Eric Thomas, frequently tells stories of people coming up to him, shaking his hand, telling him how much he has changed their life for the better, how his videos and speeches helped them to improve their business, their finances, or their marriage.

This gratification helps fuel Eric Thomas through his hectic schedule and day-to-day grind. But because he enjoys receiving this admiration, I guess you could say that this makes him a narcissist…

In truth, entrepreneurs don’t need admiration, but for those that assume leadership roles, admiration from your followers can be a key barometer for your success.

Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick…

Okay, so I understand that narcissism is, in fact, a complex personality disorder and may lead to needing treatment through psychotherapy.

There are also other traits that make up narcissism which include lack of empathy, always being the victim, and nothing ever being their fault.

…and having a victim mentality, along with not being able to take ownership or face failures, are definitely NOT traits that you see in successful entrepreneurs.

I’m just trying to highlight the fact that labeling those that believe in themselves, those that are trying to get ahead, and those that have the brass balls to pick up the bat and keep swinging for what they want, as having narcissistic traits is quite upsetting.

We should be cheering these people on and not trying to drag them down for ‘believing in themselves too much’.

If me believing that I can do more and be more makes me a narcissist, then I will wear that label with pride.

No matter how many times I fail or make mistakes, I will continue to believe that I can be better and I refuse to let anyone tell me that I can’t do something.

I will swing that bat regardless.

Roseanna x 

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Currently winging my way through life and putting most of it on the internet. This is my personal website where I share my business book reviews, my adventure tips and stories, and my general musings on life as a solo entrepreneur.

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