EGO IS THE ENEMY
Don’t we all feel ego at some point? Ego is your greatest enemy, and this book will teach you how to cure it. You will learn about different techniques to overcome ego. You can win the fight and succeed.
Who will learn from this summary?
● to young adults and aspiring leaders
● to anyone who is struggling with ego
About the author
Ryan Holiday is a speaker, author, blogger, and entrepreneur. He wrote best-selling books such as Obstacle is the Way, Ego is the Enemy and Stillness is the Key. Ryan dropped out of school at 19 years old and began to work as a writer. He is also the founder of Brass Check, which is a creative advisory firm.
EGO IS THE ENEMY
Do you feel your ego is getting in between you and your goals? Do you give up after failing? Is your life getting out of control? If yes, you are in the right place. This book will guide you to cure your ego as it is your greatest enemy. You will learn about different techniques you can practice so that your ego remains in control.
You will also learn about the importance of being humble to succeed. There are numerous habits mentioned in the book that you can include in your lifestyle to cure your ego. You are not the only one facing it. Ego is a natural emotion felt by all of us. To get hold of it is necessary. Ego has the power to destroy you and therefore, learning to control it is a must. Your success is in your hands. Do not let it slip away from you because of your ego.
Talk, Talk, Talk
At the beginning of a new journey, all of us are afraid and excited. To calm ourselves, we tend to find comfort outside rather than inside. All of us want attention while we do the least work. It is always easy to talk rather than do something. We tend to take silence as a weakness, so we talk to show our strengths. However, silence is a great quality very few have mastered. By talking unnecessarily, we weaken the action linked to it. Silence indicates self-confidence and strength. Talking reduces the quality of our work and distracts us. It is a psychological fact that talking reduces the chances of completing a task. It makes us feel like we have already accomplished it.
You must try to control your tongue in all cases so you can achieve success without falling into the trap of talking. Being silent will put your best work forward. Work quietly and ignore the impulse to talk. This story is about activist Upton Sinclair who ran as governor of California in 1934. During the campaign, Sinclair took a very unusual step that shocked everyone. He published a short book named I, Governor of California, and How I Ended Poverty. The book was narrated in the past tense, and Sinclair talked about his accomplishments as governor.
He knew he could communicate with the public like no one. He did not expect that his idea would lead to his destruction. Sinclair had written about all his strategies in the book which gave his competitors an advantage. Apart from this, Upton himself lost all interest in the campaign as the book made him feel that he had already achieved everything. The book sold millions of copies, but Sinclair’s campaign was a huge failure. He lost the election by 250,000 votes, and he became extremely disinterested in the whole process. What happened to Upton was because of his communication.
His book made him feel he had achieved everything when he has not done anything yet. He was not able to fulfill his words with actions. Upton fell into the trap of talking, and his work got affected badly. This story taught the whole world how keeping your tongue tight is the most important thing to finish a task. If you want to be successful at your work, you need to stop talking and work in complete silence. Talking will make your mind believe you have already achieved something while you haven’t yet.
To Be or To Do?
Be yourself no matter what and you will make a difference in life. You can achieve great things if you move on your path without ego and also if you become true to yourself. A person who is true to himself can never act fake to others. When you decide to do something, don’t do it for fame or recognition. By doing something your heart wants, you can be true to your soul and your friends. Try to do something that benefits others.
If you do things for fame and recognition, there is a huge chance that you will lose your true identity in the process. You will start being fake to your friends and companions. You will have to make compromises, and ultimately, you will lose yourself. Here is an example to understand how being true to yourself leads to greatness. One of the most influential men in modern warfare was John Boyd. He was a great fighter pilot, and he could defeat anyone in less than 40 seconds. Despite all this, he was never promoted above the rank of a colonel.
Boyd was elected as the lead instructor in Nellis Air Force Base, Korea. The F-15 and F-16 were his pet project. His primary aim was to be an advisor for his country, and he wanted to serve his country in every possible way. Boyd advised the Defence Secretary directly in private meetings, but he never took credit. He never published any books and no military base was named after him. He wanted to do his work sincerely without any public attention. Boyd wanted his work to make a difference rather than him being in high ranks.
Being promoted does not necessarily mean you are good at your job. Your purpose in life should be something bigger than you. If you are selfless, and you aim to improve the lives of others, you will achieve extraordinary success.
Become a Student
Always keep learning new things to improve. Learning should have no barriers. You should always try to learn things you don’t know so you can get a grip on the basics of any subject. Always be ready to take new instructions and be a good student to improve your skills. You should always get feedback from your teacher and never complain about the teaching process being too harsh. This will allow you to place your ego and ambition in someone else’s hands. This is the power of a student.
To get real and continuous feedback, you must have someone better than yourself whom you can learn from. You need to put yourself beneath someone whom you trust to improve. Accept that others know more than you and you can benefit from their knowledge. You should always be a student to become great or stay great. Be self-critical and self-motivated and try to absorb whatever is going around you.
Here is the story of guitarist, Kirk Hammett who was a great student. Kirk was barely in his twenties when he got selected as a guitarist for the band Metallica. He performed his first major show after a few days. Kirk was a humble guitarist, and despite playing the guitar for years he decided to look for a guitar teacher. In his hometown in San Francisco, Kirk found a great teacher named Joe Satriani. Joe’s style of music was different from Kirk’s. The point of choosing Joe as his instructor was that Kirk wanted to learn what he did not know.
Joe understood Kirk’s weaknesses and helped him improve. Kirk was like a sponge, and he absorbed all the instructions from Joe efficiently. Kirk was different from others because he was willing to take any type of instruction that makes him better. Joe gave Kirk constructive feedback that helped him to grow as an artist. For two years, Kirk listened to what Joe taught him and followed all his instructions carefully. Kirk became a great guitarist and improved every day.
Kirk placed his ego aside and accepted the fact that someone is better than him. By accepting this, he got a chance to learn from his knowledge of Joe which ultimately, helped Kirk in mastering his skills. What separated Kirk from his companions and opponents was that he was always ready to take criticism positively and never let his ego come in between his work.
By becoming a student, Kirk became much better than his previous self. The famous guitarist became a student so he could be great and stay great. If Kirk had thought he was better than anyone else, he would never have improved or gotten better than his previous self. It teaches us how we should always keep learning and accept that others might know more than us.
The Danger of Early Pride
You should never boast about yourself. Having pride in your life is an obstacle between you and your destination. Pride has the power to ruin you, thinking that you are better than everyone else is dangerous. People who don’t boast but privately think they are better than everyone else are still proud. Pride can destroy what you aspire for. You should always be humble.
This is a story about Benjamin Franklin. At the age of 18, he came back to Boston, his hometown, after seven months. He had a new suit and a watch and he had earned a lot of money as well. Franklin came back to Boston full of pride. He boasted about his wealth to everyone, including his family. One day, Franklin had a meeting with Cotton Mather, an old friend, and a much-respected man. Both men were walking down the hallway when suddenly Mather shouted at Franklin “Stoop! Stoop”. Franklin was too busy boasting about his achievements that he ran directly into the low ceiling. He hit his head very hard.
Mather told Franklin that he is holding his head up too high, that’s why he hit the low ceiling. Franklin realized this, and he started to fight his pride as it was making him arrogant. The same applies to all of us. If you have pride, you will fall hard in life. Pride creates arrogance and takes humility away from a person. Always remember to keep your pride in control and live a humble life.
Don’t Tell Yourself a Story
Aim for excellence and success will follow. You should always focus on the details of every task you do. Maintain a high standard for your work. Try not to involve yourself in any story regarding your work or success. We all want to create stories from our past events. However, this can be dangerous for the future. It leads to arrogance and makes our life a story that we are yet to live. These stories block all the ways of exploration in the future.
This story is about the football coach and general manager Bill Walsh who took the worst football team, the 49ers under his training. In just three years, he guided the team to the Super Bowl Victory. Walsh achieved excellence by paying attention to details and success followed. He disciplined the players even outside the field. Walsh taught them to keep the locker room clean at all times. No one is allowed to smoke, say curse words or fight with a teammate.
The newspapers called Walsh “the genius”, and there were several stories about his success, but he accepted none. He ignored it because it was harmful to the future, and it would make him arrogant. However, Walsh’s players let the stories go to their heads, and they started having overconfidence. This overconfidence affected their performance, and they lost 12 out of 22 games. This is the result when you prematurely credit yourself. When you let the stories get into your head, you start making lesser efforts and your standards fall.
The team had to work hard again to reach the standard they had lost. After rigorous training sessions, the players could finally reach that level of excellence again. This is why Walsh never accepted the title given to him by the media. Telling a story about yourself can make you arrogant, overconfident, and less hard-working.
What’s Important to You?
It is necessary to think about what is important to you to gain success. But we are never happy with what we have, and we always want what others have. Our main aim is to have more than others. We start our journey with what is important to us, but once we have achieved it, ego enters the picture and ruins us. We say yes to opportunities we don’t want thinking it will help us succeed, but it does the opposite. It distances us from what truly matters and prevents us from getting it. We waste precious moments of life in proving ourselves to other people. We forget what’s important in our life.
Here is an example to understand how essential it is to choose what is important to you. This is a story about Ulysses S. Grant. After the civil war in America, Grant was an influential and important person. Grant had no interest in politics and had chosen the path of an army general because of this reason. However, all of a sudden, Grant decided to pursue the highest rank, which is the presidency. He was elected, and his term was one of the most corrupt and most ineffective regimes in America’s history. He left the office after two failed terms.
After the presidency, Grant used all his money to create a financial brokerage with an investor named Ferdinand Ward. Ward publically bankrupted Grant, and he went broke. This led to failure because Grant’s main aim was to rival the millionaires instead of pursuing his interests. Grant had to cover the debts of the firm, so he took a loan using his war mementos as collateral. He spent the last years of his life battling throat cancer and collecting funds for his family before he departed.
Grant lost everything because his ego got in the way, and he did not follow what he loved. After achieving what he loved, he got distracted and wanted to have what others had. This led to his downfall.
Alive Time or Dead Time?
Don’t let your failure set you back. Get back up after each time life knocks you down. When you fail, it is alright to feel angry or depressed, but don’t let this failure define you. New opportunities are waiting for you. There are two types of time. These are dead and alive times. Deadtime is the period spent waiting while alive time is spent in learning and being productive every second of your life. Most people get stuck in dead time, but you should always try to live in an alive time and come out of every failure like a champion.
This story is about a famous criminal and minister named Malcolm X, previously known as Detroit Red. He sold drugs, worked as a pimp, and was an armed robber. He had his burglary gang which he ruled with bravery. Malcolm wasn’t afraid to kill or die. He was finally arrested in an attempt to fence an expensive watch he had stolen. He got a 10-year sentence in jail, and he was barely 21 years old. Malcolm failed not only himself but the standards of society and morality. He had ten years to spend in a tiny cell all by himself.
But as a prisoner, Malcolm turned his life around. He decided to take advantage of each second in jail to improve himself. He began to learn and read the books available in the jail library. Malcolm learned about religion and philosophy. He chose alive time over dead time and did not let his failure define him. He achieved great heights after coming out of prison and became a civil rights activist.
Draw The Line
Never make your bad life worse by making bad decisions. Everyone fails at some point in their life, but that does not mean you should let your ego win. You have a chance to start over and build your life again. If you feel a situation is bad, don’t make it worse, put an end to the situation and start over. Do not lose your dignity or character in any situation. Always hold tight to these two qualities. Trouble does not last forever, and if you fail, it is completely all right. Ego makes failure look like an embarrassment when it is not.
John DeLorean owned a car company, and he mismanaged the whole business. Day by day, his business was declining, and he was losing profit. Instead of resigning, John thought of illegal ways to protect his business. He invested money in 220 pounds of cocaine to ensure financing. He made the situation from bad to worse. This led to an unfortunate outcome for John. He was arrested for a $60 million drug deal, and that put an end to his career. He was publicly humiliated and embarrassed. It was him that caused so much trouble for himself.
There is no one else to be blamed. He let his ego get in the way and made things worse. John could have ended the business when he realized it was failing, but he chose illegal options to secure his business. He saw failure as an embarrassment which was his mistake.
The Effort is enough
Do not let selfishness and greed overtake you. Always try to do the right thing even when choices are limited. In life, there will be times when you do everything right, but the result is still negative. There are times when you have no control over the events happening, and somebody else takes credit for your work. But in these times, what’s important is to stay on the right path and not let yourself get defeated by ego. You should always keep working hard and be kind. We should never attach ourselves to the result as it is the effort that matters.
Let’s take an example to understand how staying on the right path is important. Belisarius is one of the greatest military generals of all time. He won many battles for the Byzantine Empire. Belisarius led the attacks to reclaim Rome since barbarians had taken it. However, his triumphs were not made public. He was repeatedly placed under suspicion by the emperor, Justinian. The emperor ordered the official historian to destroy Belisarius’ good reputation and legacy.
According to scholars, all of Belisarius’ titles and wealth were taken away from him. He was even blinded and forced to beg on the streets. Justinian was over-controlling, envious, greedy, and selfish. He felt threatened because of Belisarius’ rising fame. Despite the injustice done to him, Belisarius never complained. He had no ego or greed in any way. Belisarius knew that he had no control over somebody’s liking of his work. So, what was special about him was that he kept going in the right direction. Serving his country was Belisarius’ top priority, and he did not need rewards for that.
In this book, you have learned how talking and revealing your plans before achieving them reduces your chances of success. Your mind believes as if it has already achieved it, and you start to lose interest. You also learned about how being true to yourself is important. You should always choose what matters and never lose your identity. Always be a student and keep learning. Accept the fact that you know less than others and learn from their knowledge.
Do not create stories about your past as it leads to arrogance and is harmful to the future. Be humble and keep doing what you love. Everybody fails in life but what is important for you is to learn from failures. Utilize every moment of your life to improve yourself. Do not let your failures define you. Do not make any situation go from bad to worse. Always remember you can put an end to a bad situation and start again. Failure is not something to be embarrassed by. It is a step towards success.
Run after excellence and get hold of your ego because if you do, success will be the one chasing after you.