BBC Radio’s Zane Lowe conducted a fascinating interview with Jay-Z over the weekend and I think there is a lot to learn from it (I’ll embed the three parts released so far below). One of those lessons has to do with egos.

Jay-Z discussed how a falling out with music producer Timbaland led to a divide between the two and how it was driven by Timbaland’s ego. Timbaland apologized and the two reconciled and collaborated on Jay-Z’s new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail.” This led to the following question: what’s your attitude towards the egos of others and how you relate to it?

“In my beginning, I just lived such a rich life,” he said. “A full life. When my first album came out, I was 26. And I had seen so many things in the streets, so my attitude was like, ‘man, I’ve seen so much. I don’t have anything to prove.’ I know who I am. I’m a very self aware person. When you’re self aware, even when you’re dealing with someone’s ego, you allow their ego to live in its own space. The problem is when you engage that energy. That’s when there’s a problem, if you engage the ego with your ego. Then it’s like, ‘OK, now something has to happen.’ It can keep escalating to a level that can be irreversible.”

We all have an ego to some extent. It’s not bad, necessarily. When we talk about ego, we generally use it to mean self confidence gone too far, but it’s a tight line between self confidence, which people say is good, and ego, which people say is bad. But whatever it is, the ability to navigate egos is a great skill for a community manager to have. You want people to play together to make something great.

So it’s not about crushing the ego, it’s not about beating them down. It’s about recognizing them and letting them live in their own space, which is a great way to look at it. Someone having an ego doesn’t hurt you, really. It doesn’t. It may bother you, but it doesn’t hurt you. The idea then is just not to engage your ego with their ego. That’s what people do when they feel threatened, which you shouldn’t feel.

Unless their ego is hurting the community. Of course if they are being disrespectful or rude, you might have to deal with it, but there is a difference between that and just being acutely aware of how good you are.

Instead of engaging with the ego, focus on what they bring to the table, what their strengths are and what they can offer to the community and engage them in those areas, allowing them to showcase the reason why they are confident in themselves. That’s what you pull out of them. To do otherwise will usually create a less favorable result. As the old saying goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Via Rap Radar.