My thoughts on mankind's evolving tryst with ego.
Currently we are somewhere between money and fame - of course we have radicals who shun material possessions.
A few decades back, capitalism was not as blatant and therefore, reputation in society and fame held value. A government job, an educator, a scientist, an armyman - may be these were idealistic.
Innovation and entrepreneurship were frowned upon and sounded too individualistic.
I believe the industrial revolution resulted in the seeds of capitalism. Suddenly labour was cut down, production became easier, consumption increased, demand increased spawning what may be the actual super bubble which no one sees currently. May be this is a bubble which may never pop.
Slavery is another aspect which was shared through time.
But if we were to go further back into time - you had vast empires; British, French, Portugese, Japanese. This tells us another tale of the human ego. The king at the top, but people would have a chance to be great, either by winning the ovarian lottery or by being connected to the 'government' - which may be through the ranks of an army or as a part of the administrative (read oppressive) function.
If we go further back where we have smaller empires - Mughal, Chinese - The quality of life was worse. May be ego was more gender specific. It may have been a victory for a guy to have more than 1 wife, or have more food in a family.
So we have grown from sustenance to food to society to aristocracy to society to money to society. And another hypothesis is that every phase of mankind's evolution has removed a prior value.
We no longer value sustenance, food, lineage - but we currently value money and materialism. Slavery has been abolished. Religion has survived somehow - still creating barriers between regions and intellects.
Somehow, people are becoming more individualistic, lonely, self sufficient (socially), random and iconoclastic.