The world of business and finance is known for being dominated by inflated egos, where the role of luck in successful outcomes is always described as skill. This is a world where the reason for a merger can be as simple as the Chief Executive looking to feed their ‘mine is bigger than yours’ syndrome. At the heart of any financial crisis or company failure you’ll be sure to find runaway egos, powered by a delusional self-confidence.
Of course there are egos in other professions, but since power and money go hand in hand, the repercussions of unchecked egos in the financial world are more far reaching. The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008/2009 and the tale of our own Celtic Tiger property bubble are classic examples, where the actions of a small minority were felt by the many.
I love sport, and one of the main reasons I love sport is that in this world unchecked egos get found out quickly. Spoof artists can survive, but not for very long. One sport where this is particularly true is mixed martial arts, one to one combat with nowhere to hide. That is why it has been interesting to follow Conor “the notorious” McGregor, a man that has walked the fine line between confidence and arrogance since his arrival on the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) scene.
On Saturday night in Las Vegas he became the first Irishman to win a UFC Championship belt, buoyed by the support of his 10,000 strong Irish brigade. This is a guy who has propelled himself, through hard work and dedication, from social welfare obscurity to being the face of the global UFC franchise. He might goad other fighters, but he always backs it up in the ring. Don’t forget the great Muhammad Ali used to do the same; the Joe Frazier feud makes McGregor’s goading of his opposition look tame.
McGregor is well able to trash talk but he also come out with some wise words including his quote from last year: “I am cocky in prediction. I am confident in preparation, but I am always humble in victory or defeat.” It might be interesting if more business and political leaders embraced the virtue of humility, particularly in failure. The hearings of the current banking inquiry in Ireland would suggest our politicians and bankers have not caught on yet!