Ego is The Enemy - Ryan Holiday

Ego is The Enemy - Ryan Holiday

Video Book Summary

Download all of the Mind Maps here.

Book Summary Notes

Ego is The Enemy

“While the history books are filled with tales of obsessive, visionary geniuses who remade the world in their image with sheer, almost irrational force, I’ve found that if you go looking you’ll find that history is also made by individuals who fought their egos at every turn, who eschewed the spotlight, and who put their highest goals above their desire for recognition. Engaging with and retelling these stories has been my method of learning and absorbing them."

"It’s always nice to be made to feel special or empowered or inspired. But that’s not the main aim of this book."

"Instead, I have tried to arrange these pages so that you might end in the same place I did when I finished writing it: that is, you will think less of yourself. I hope you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.”

How can thinking less of yourself be helpful?

This is an interesting take..

Most of the books I've done before are all about adopting empowering beliefs..  

Thinking highly of yourself and how that leads to success!

This book is going to show us the opposite:

How is having a high opinion of yourself hurting you?

There are several important way's you'll want to look out for in your own life..

What is Ego?

“Not that this is a book about ego in the Freudian sense. Freud was fond of explaining the ego by way of analogy—our ego was the rider on a horse, with our unconscious drives representing the animal while the ego tried to direct them." 

"Modern psychologists, on the other hand, use the word ‘egotist’ to refer to someone dangerously focused on themselves and with disregard for anyone else. All these definitions are true enough but of little value outside a clinical setting.

"The ego we see most commonly goes by a more colloquial definition: an unhealthy belief in your own importance." 

"That’s the definition the book will use. It’s that petulant child inside every person, the one that chooses getting his or her way over anything else. The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility—that’s ego. It’s the sense of superiority and certainty that exceeds the bounds of confidence and talent.”

An unhealthy belief in your own importance..

Belief in yourself is important..  But as we see here that belief can manifest in some unhealthy ways!

  • Do you have a need for recognition to affirm your belief?
  • Do you feel superior without any proof?
  • Do you have a sense of entitlement?

All of these things are going to lead you down a bad path..

  • They are going to lead you to do things simply for recognition..
  • Take shortcuts, not take action at all and even put others down to pull yourself up..

These things might seem like they are par for the course.. Or even 'required' to win!

  • But they won't lead you to long term success..
  • Take one of my coaching clients for example!

This guy had created several of what I would call moderately successful businesses..

But because he hadn't been able to push past a certain threshold he was quite upset!

I asked him what he thought about shutting down or automizing his current business and taking a year or two to work for a top performer..

That was not something he would even entertain!

His ego wouldn't let him work for someone else..

Eventually I convinced him to do freelancing for some top performers.. 

With a few of the techniques I showed him he got some short term contracts (10 hrs a week) with top performers in his field!

The last call we got on he was so excited..  

With all his new knowledge and connections he's predicting a rapid growth of his business!

But it took him getting over his ego to get there.

Long Game

“If you want to be more than a flash in the pan, you must be prepared to focus on the long term." 

"We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status in their pursuit, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.

"With their aggression, brashness, intensity, selfishness, self-absorption, endless self-promotion, and impulsiveness, our competitors don’t realize how they jeopardize their own efforts (to say nothing of their sanity)." 

"We will challenge the myth of the self-assured genius for whom doubt and introspection is foreign, as well as challenge the myth of the pained, tortured artist who must sacrifice his health for his work.”

Long term success can't manifest if we have an unhealthy belief in our own importance..

Being sure of our importance or expertise causes us to be close minded..

  • We won't look for opportunities to learn..
  • We won't look for ways to change our game to get better results either..
  • Simply because we've convinced ourselves we're already great!

But what do the greats really do?

  • They practice everyday..
  • They get coaches and mentors..
  • They try new things and are willing to fail..

All of those things aren't possible with a big ego..

  • Because they all require you to say 'I'm not perfect'
  • But they all also compound over time..  
  • Meaning that success is more a function of not having an ego than it is your initial starting point!
  • Think of all the athletes that were born gifted that never made it in the pros..  Simply because they were always gifted and didn't have to learn work ethic!

No Endzone

“Is it ten thousand hours or twenty thousand hours to mastery? The answer is that it doesn’t matter." 

"There is no end zone. To think of a number is to live in a conditional future. We’re simply talking about a lot of hours—that to get where we want to go isn’t about brilliance, but continual effort."

"While that’s not a terribly sexy idea, it should be an encouraging one. Because it means it’s all within reach—for all of us, provided we have the constitution and humbleness to be patient and the fortitude to put in the work.”

What happens when you cross the 10,000 hours line?

Nothing..  Because it's a fictional number!

  • What really matters is the day to day step by step improvement you're making and a commitment to the long term..
  • Will that take 10,000 hours?  Who cares!  Focus on today.

Continual effort!

  • That is what success is all about..
  • How can you commit to that?
  • How can you remind yourself of that?

Try this:

  • Set your intention and vision..
  • Write that down!
  • Get busy doing the work..

Function Function Function

“Is an iterative approach less exciting than manifestos, epiphanies, flying across the country to surprise someone, or sending four-thousand-word stream-of-consciousness e-mails in the middle of the night? Of course. Is it less glamorous and bold than going all in and maxing out your credit cards because you believe in yourself? Absolutely. Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function."

"The critical work that you want to do—it can be done by you alone. It will require your deliberation and consideration. Passion doesn’t help. We don’t need you to be excited or amped. The world has that in spades."

"It’d be far better if you were intimidated by what lies ahead—humbled by its magnitude and determined to see it through regardless. Leave passion for the amateurs and the delusional. Make it about what you feel you must do and say, not what you care about and wish to be. Then you will do great things. Then you will stop being your old, good-intentioned, but ineffective self.”

Passion is easy purpose is hard..

Everyone is passionate about something!

  • Some people are passionate about sleeping in..
  • Some people are passionate about sports..
  • Some people are passionate about books!

But passion doesn't get you there..  Purpose does!

  • Don't tell me about your passion..  Tell me about your why!
  • Why are you doing this?
  • Why will you get up early and work later than anyone else?
  • Why are you going to be the one who succeeds?

Purpose is going to push you through the hard times..  And there will be hard times!

Real It Till

“Back to that popular trope: Fake it ‘til you make it. It’s no surprise that such an idea has found increasing relevance in our noxiously bullshit, Nerf world. When it is difficult to tell a real producer from an adept self-promoter, of course some people will roll the dice and manage to play the confidence game." 

"Make it so you don’t have to fake it—that’s the key. Can you imagine a doctor trying to get by with anything less? Or a quarterback, or a bull rider? More to the point, would you want them to? So why would you try otherwise?"

"Every time you sit down to work, remind yourself: I am delaying gratification by doing this. I am passing the marshmallow test. I am earning what my ambition burns for. I am making an investment in myself instead of my ego. Give yourself a little credit for this choice, but not so much, because you’ve got to get back to the task at hand: practicing, working, improving.”

One of my mentors always says Real it Till You Make It..

Why is that important?

  • Because anything else is setting you up for failure..
  • Even if you successfully fake it till you make it you're always walking on eggshells!
  • You are made up of marketing and not substance..

Maybe you will get some admiration..  But what else?

  • Faking it robs you of the satisfaction of getting there..
  • Faking it robs you of the motivation it will take to get real!

Remember..  Give this a try!

  • Why am I here?  What is my purpose..
  • I accept that I will need to delay gratification to achieve it..
  • Pat yourself on the back for being willing to do it!
  • Then get back to work..

Not Failure

“What we need to see is that we are not failures, we’re just experiencing failure."   

"We need to embody what’s come to be known as the Stockdale Paradox, based on the philosopher soldier James Stockdale, who spent seven years in a North Vietnamese prison camp."

"On the one hand, to survive such an ordeal you must have deep faith in yourself and your ability to persevere."

"On the other, you must be realistic about your situation and surroundings. False hope is not your friend; like ego, it betrays you in the toughest moments.”

Failure is a given..

Almost no matter what you choose you will experience some failure.

  • For some people that failure or fear of failure can be debilitating..
  • Their Ego will be severely damaged by it! 

But for others.. Who have control of their Ego's failure is a beautiful experience!

  • Every failure or challenge is an opportunity to grow..
  • To learn something new..  To identify a problem others haven't seen..  To come up with a solution!

Don't start any endeavour expecting not to fail..

  • Instead start with the belief that you will fail!
  • But keep the commitment to overcome it..  

Sweep The Floor

“My friend the philosopher and martial artist Daniele Bolelli once gave me a helpful metaphor. He explained that training was like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep."

"Every day for the rest of your life you will find yourself at one of three phases: aspiration, success, failure. You will battle the ego in each of them. You will make mistakes in each of them."

"You must sweep the floor every minute of every day. And then sweep again.”

The dust is collecting quickly.. Are you ready to sweep it everyday?

Back to blog