Title: Ego Is the Enemy
Author: Ryan Holiday
Length: 226 pages
Genre: Nonfiction, Philosophy, Self Help
Get a copy: 1) Search in local bookstores to support small business 2) Amazon
Short Description: No matter what others are saying, we’re all selfish bastards who’s only thoughts are towards saving their own skin. When ego infiltrates your mind, you start to act like you know everything. Which is not only absurd, but it also blocks you from becoming better. Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday will help you find balance, let loose your ego and pursue the larger plan.
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
The Ego is the Enemy will bring you to the ground. It’s like a powerful swap in the face which will allow you to see things in a different perspective. Our mind can be easily blurred by your ego. This usually happens thanks to our parents or later, when we gain some sort of a contest. However, allowing your ego to take over your actions will soon make you a prick. A person others will start to avoid and secretly mocker.
My mom used to tell me that I’m unique, handsome, funny, with a beautiful smile. This made me feel good about myself. However, why was I single? I grew up thinking that I should have what I want, that everybody else should like me and want to hang out with me. Of course, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t special. I didn’t deserve more attention. It was simply my ego whispering.
Our greatest enemy is not an outside factor, our greatest enemy lies within. It’s called ego. Your ego will silently whisper that you deserve more, you’re more, and you can do stuff that are often physically or morally impossible to be done.
This book is absolutely full of amazing anecdotes loosely tied together in three sections: Aspire, Success, and Failure. If you are looking for inspiration to get you through a pit of despair, and can’t stand empty platitudes, this book is for you. Most of the stories are about successful people and egomaniacs. The second group is inhabited by people who are getting all the media attention. They act boldly and selfishly, thinking that they’re stars and that they have the right to win. Despite their firm talks, they often fail miserably and are quickly forgotten by the masses.
In his book, Ryan defines the definition of real success: love towards your work, respect the people around you, adopt humble behavior. Thanks to social media, one can easily get delusional and start to think that the world revolves around him.
Even though the book is a really good read, a lot of people won’t make it till the end. Mainly, because most of us can’t handle uncomfortable self-examination. If that’s the case with you, then, you’re simply still not ready to evolve and live in unison with yourself. Before I present my key takeaways, let me first present a really powerful thought from the book:“…Daniel Boleli once gave me a helpful metaphor. He explained that training was like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, it doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must seep.”
Notes, thoughts, and essential takeaways that I want to remember from the book. My main goal is to leave you with curated content, to which you can easily return to in the future for reference, that’s also holding the main insights of the book without spoiling what the book is all about:
Why do you do what you do
“So why do you do what you do?” The answer to the following question will help you understand what matters in your life and what doesn’t.
Why do you read that last book? Why did you buy that dress? Why do you go to the gym? Why are you working the job you’re working? Why do you wake up in the morning?
A lot of people don’t put a lot of sense in their actions. Their living on autopilot and they are used of doing things only because they are commonly accepted by society. They buy new gadgets to show of in front of their friends and boost their ego. They will watch a TV shows just because someone else mentioned in a conversation.
If your answer to: “Why do you do what you do,” is to “to keep up with the Joneses,” then stop what you’re doing. Learn to say no to things. Opt out of stupid races that don’t matter, or even exist. Don’t read, watch, do, or buy stuff only because other people are buying them. Do them only if you really want or need them.
The more you have and the more you do, the harder it will be for you to maintain these things. For instance, if you have two cars, you will have to fill two tanks with gas, change 8 tiers when the winter comes, pay for 2 car washes. So the next question will be, do you really need two cars?
Maybe you do, but that’s not my point. We all occasionally find ourselves in the middle of some project, obligation, a pile of junk, and we can’t understand how we end up in this situation. We say yes to too many things without first asking ourselves “what’s the point,” or “do I really want to do this.”
Find out why you’re doing the things your doing daily and ignore everyone else who is messing with your pace.
Talent is only the starting point
You maybe know how to paint stuff. That’s really good for you. People all over the world will pay good bucks for a good painting. However, talent can bring you only to a certain stage. There are a lot of great artists who are less famous than your mom on Facebook. Some of them have really high self-esteem and consider their work unique, even more, beyond excellent. According to them, the reason they are not selling any paintings is because “others are stupid and they can’t understand their art.” How convenient.
Becoming well-known in your field requires a lot of work, and talent is not only a part of the cocktail. If you want to be a painter, besides the obvious need of knowing how to actually draw, you will also need to understand how to present yourself, market yourself, focus yourself towards one specific niche. If you start as an impressionist and later decide to try painting abstract, or surrealistic pictures, or both. People will be a bit confused about your style. Also, your paintings will most probably suffer because you aren’t focused towards one style.
Some people get so caught up in their talent that they either forgot to practice or simply their ego tells them that they don’t need to, that they’re already “perfect.” This behavior can be observed in people all over the world and in different fields. Artists with one song, song that breaks the chart are often quickly forgotten. Mainly, because they get so boosted that they stop putting the needed effort.
Don’t waste your talent by thinking it’s the only ingredient for becoming successful. Like all of us, you have to balance talent, modesty, ambition, and intensity, especially when if you’re younger.
If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.” Marina Abramović
A few fundamental realities
1. You’re not nearly as good or as important as you think you are – Have you ever got that feeling of greatness when you walk into a restaurant wearing all of your new clothes? You think that everybody stops to look at you. Women want to be with you, man want to be like you.
No matter what your mom told you while you were young, you’re most probably not that good. At least, don’t convince yourself you are. A man who believes he is the best is the one who will stop pushing, stop learning, which will lead to degeneration and an early retirement.
2. You have an attitude that needs to be readjusted – We’re either too good or too bad to people around. Try to please everyone around us or push them away. We agree with people only because we think that this will make them happy.
Practice being yourself. Don’t drink, smoke or say something only because the other people are doing it. Since this is your time on this planet, the best way to spend it is by doing what you please.
3. Most of what you think you know or most of what you learned in books or in school is out of date or wrong – When we graduate we think that we’re ready for a corner office, above average salary and a personal assistant. We think that the education we’ve got during all these years is 100% applicable in every company. Of course, this is not even close to reality. You will probably use between 2 to 5% from what you’ve learned as a knowledge in college in all of your jobs to follow. The rest you will learn along the way.
Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you
There is an enemy is so sneaky, cunning, and dangerous. That most of the time we don’t even know it exists. It pretends to be our friend, but secretly undermines everything we do. The most dangerous enemy in the world is: In your head. It is not you. It is a certain part of you.
In my daily work I see it constantly, people who think they’ve figured it all out. They look good, talk loud and if you don’t know them well enough you will think that they’re the highest achievers of the company. Of course, this is not the case. In their head, they see themselves on the top, even though they’re average performers. Even if they messed up, they will reject it immediately, telling that there is someone else to be blamed – It’s not their fault. Giving constructive feedback to such people is extremely hard, mostly because they don’t think they need to improve. When the other person starts talking their brain simply blocks the words. Because we can’t take or receive feedback if we are incapable of or uninterested in hearing what the other person has to say.
Early in our career, we can achieve some success. Got a good job. Save some money. And strive to become better with each passing day. Or, we can do the previous mentioned and stop at a certain point, dooming ourselves to lose the long-term battle.
The way to restrict your ego from taking control over your thoughts, and becoming an arrogant bastard, is by increased self-awareness. We don’t need pity – our own or anyone else’s – we need purpose, poise, and patience.
I have observed that those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who “keep under the body”; are those who never grow excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self-possessed, patient, and polite. —Booker T. Washington
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