Book Notes - #006 - Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday.

To whatever you aspire to be... ego is the enemy.

Book Review

Rating: 4/5 ⭐️

Topic: Non-Fiction (philosophy).


Main ideas - Good.

Examples & stories - Okay.

Engagement - Good.


Who should read this book?


If you are looking for a book that talks about how ego might be the thing that is holding you back from obtaining what you want, this is it.


This is a good book full of ancient wisdom and good advice. It's simple and easy to read. The examples and stories used in the book might not be the best but they do the job. This is a good book to read and reflect on your own personal relationship with Ego.


Personal Reflection.


Ego is not all bad, there are times that it's useful. Whenever we find ourselves struggling, it reminds us that we have achieved great things before. It helps us take a mental note of all the goals and milestones we have achieved in the past. This "not quitting" mentality is useful when the work becomes boring and stale.


But is harmful when we are already succeeding. It changes from "not quitting" to " I earned it" and it will slowly push us away from what made us successful in the first place. The work, the long hours, the discipline.


Although resting and recovery are essential in both success and failure, skipping practice is not. Get your Ego in check and do not become complacent from the things you have achieved. Remember that what got you results, is the same thing that will get you out of failure.


If Ego Is the Enemy... Consistency Is The Key.


The 5 Key Takeaways From The Book


1) ASPIRATIONS, SUCCESS AND FAILURE.


“Be humble in your aspirations, gracious in your success and resilient in your failures.”


Aspirations are associated with goals, success with results and failure with the lack of results.


In pursuit of any goal or aim, you will inevitably go through tough times. You will start asking "Why can't I get what I want".


Part of the answer is that you are simply not good enough just yet. Sometimes you just have to keep practicing, keep learning and keep adapting.


To believe that you can go straight to success without putting in the hours, that's Ego. To believe that you are better than others and won't show up to practice, that's Ego. To believe that because you have succeeded once, you don't have to prove it again, that's Ego. Success is not a one-time fee.

  • Replace ego with humility.

  • Expectations with discipline.

  • And failure with fortitude.

For whatever you aspire to be... ego is the enemy.


2) THE THREE MAIN ENEMIES


“Practice self-control … do not fall under the sway of temper, pleasure, and pain.”


Doing great work is a struggle, whether it is in our personal life or professional one... "It's draining, it's demoralizing, it's frightening." The harder the challenge, the more uncertainty we'll face, but greatness comes from wrestling with the void.


"Be action and education focus. Forgo validation and status, put one foot in front of the other." Like Charlie Munger says, "step by step you get ahead."

  • Temper, pleasure and pain, are temporary.

  • To become self-contained, self-motivated, and ruled by principle, is forever.

Do not fall under the sway of temper, pleasure and pain.


3) DO SOMETHING


“To be somebody or to do something... do not fall in love with the image of success."


Oftentimes, we fall in love with the image of success. The appearances, the outside shell, the surface-level traits. The image of success comes in many forms. The "title", the "possessions", the "confidence". But all those things do not necessarily show us the real thing.


Just because you say you're something, does not mean you're good at that thing.


Just because you say you're a CEO, does not mean you are a good "CEO". Just because you say you're a writer, does not mean that you are a good "Writer". Just because you say you're an entrepreneur, does not mean you are a good "Entrepreneur".


Becoming good at what you do, requires effort, time and energy. To receive feedback on your craft and incorporate it into your work is an act of humility.


So, "Pay your dues, check the boxes, put in [the necessary] amount of time, leave things essentially [better] as they are." Do not confuse the act of talking with the act of doing. For all success comes from the act of doing.


4) STAY HUMBLE


“To become what we ultimately hope to become often takes long periods of obscurity, of sitting and wrestling with some topic or paradox. Humility is what keeps us there."


Without the grounding that humility provides, we would be unwilling to stay in a state of "constant learning". The long hours of practice it takes to master a skill are often not glamourous at all. It's often the tedious and boring work.


Ego wants to rush to the end, it confuses patience with a lack of ambition. It assumes that we are better than we are and we are able to skip the practice. But you won't skip practice if you remain humble. You need to remember that when we are doing the work, we are getting better.


These long periods of practice are what makes us, as Steven Martin said, "so good they can't ignore you."


"To whatever success you have achieved... Ego is the enemy"


5) FAILURE


“Almost always, your road to victory goes through a place called “failure.”


"In order to taste success again, [you] have to understand what led [you] to this moment (or these years) of difficulty, what went wrong and why. [You] must deal with the situation in order to move past it. [You] will need to accept it and to push through it.”


Understanding that this moment is not your life but a moment in your life, that's what makes all the difference. Do not let shame, insecurities or lack of patience take away from you the most valuable skill, turning misfortunes into lessons.


Remember that Ego will be louder during these long periods of time. It will try to stop you from picking yourself back up by stating things like;


"Why even try?" " or "What's the point?".


It will demand success from you. It will discourage you, especially when you are trying your hardest. It will judge you as if putting any effort is a sign of weakness and not strength.


Remember, that you are not your circumstances, you are what you choose during those circumstances. Pick up the things that were useful when you were succeeding, and let go of the things that crumble on their way down.


The value of pursuing a goal is not the result but rather, the direction. Reflect on your pain, build character, and have the courage to get back up again. The road to victory goes through a place called failure.


"To whatever failure and challenges you will face... ego is the enemy"


Action Steps

  1. Be humble in your aspirations, gracious in your success and resilient in your failures.

  2. Do not fall under the sway of temper, pleasure and pain.

  3. Pay your dues, check the boxes, put in the necessary amount of time, leave things essentially better as they are.

  4. Remain in these long periods of practice until you become as Steven Martin said "so good they can't ignore you."

  5. Remember that the value of pursuing goals is not the results but rather the direction they provide us.

Buy Book!