Salam woke! people,
Today we want to summarize one interesting book, titled “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday. While common themes on today’s books more focus on motivation and success (that tend to support the growth of ego), this book discourage ego and support humble continuous learning and growth to be resilience in every step of our life.
Ego in this book is defined by Holiday as an unhealthy belief of our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition, which, according to Holiday, is the enemy in every step of our life. He said it may not be a problem when things come fast and easy, but when in times of change and difficulty, ego is our enemy.
The book is divided into three parts: aspire, success and failure. The aim of this structure is simple: to help us suppress ego early before bad habits take hold, to replace the temptations of ego with humility and discipline when we experience success, and to cultivate strength and fortitude so that when fate turns against us, we are not wrecked by failure. In short, the book aims to help us:
• Humble in our Aspirations
• Gracious in our Success
• Resilient in our Failures
Here, we are setting out to do something. We have a goal, a calling, a new beginning. Every great journey begins here – yet far too many of us never reach our intended destination. Ego more often than not is the culprit. We build ourselves up with fantastical stories, we pretend we have it all figured out, we let our star burn bright and hot only to fizzle out, and we have no idea why. These are symptoms of ego, for which humility and reality are the cure.
Detachment – In this phase we must practice seeing ourselves with a little distance, cultivating the ability to get out of our own head. Detachment is a sort of natural ego antidote. It’s easy to be emotionally invested and infatuated with our own work. Holiday remind us that what is rare is NOT raw talent, skill or even confidence, but humility, diligence and self-awareness.
He also said that even though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. We shall be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition shall not be grandiose but iterative – one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time. This will help us to be deeply connected, aware and learning from our experience, rather than disconnected from reality and other people to pursue a dream. Facts are better than dreams, as Churchill put it.
Be Silent – Silence is strength, particularly early on in any journey. Talk depletes us, because talking and doing fight for the same resources. Even goal visualization can confuse our mind with the actual progress. So less talk, better performance. The more difficult the task, the more uncertain the outcome, the more costly talk will be.
Doing vs Being – Whatever we seek to do in life, reality soon intrudes on our youthful idealism. This reality comes in many names and forms: incentives, commitments, recognition and politics. In every cases, they can quickly redirect us from doing to being. From earning to pretending. Ego aids in that deception every step of the way.
Be an Eternal Student – Aspiring greats, though they were confident, stay humble and act as eternal students. Nowadays it’s easy to learn from many sources. However, learning and taking feedbacks are avoided by Ego.
Don’t Be Passionate – Passion, i.e. unbridled enthusiasm, willingness to pounce on what is in front of us with full measure of our zeal, the bundle of energy.. the burning, unquenchable desire to start or to achieve some vague, ambitious and distant goal.
The critical work that we want to do will require our deliberation and consideration. Not passion. Not naivete. Make it about what we must do, not wish to do. That’s how to do great things and stop being our old, good-intentioned but ineffective selves.
The Canvas Strategy – The idea Holiday presented in this section is that the person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting.
Help ourselves, by help others. Make a concerted effort to trade our short-term gratification for a longer-term payoff. Forget credits, discover opportunities to promote other people’ creativity, find outlets and people for collaboration, and eliminate distractions that hinder their progress and focus. Consider each one an investment in relationships and in our own development.
Restrain Ourselves – Those who have subdued their ego understand that it doesn’t degrade us when others treat us poorly, it degrades them. Do not let it distract us from playing the game. Let go ego, not many paths have forgiveness for ego.
Get Out of Our Own Head – Live clearly and presently. Don’t live in the haze of abstract, live with the tangible and real even if – especially if – it is uncomfortable.
The Danger of Early Pride – Fight our ego by really knowing ourselves. When we feel pride, ask ourselves what are we missing now that a more humble person might see? Kill pride before it kills what we aspire to.
Work, Work, Work – We must work, no triumph without toil. Delay gratification and sit down to work.
Here we are at the top of a mountain we worked hard to climb – or at least the summit is in sight. Now we face new temptations and problems. We breathe thinner air in an unforgiving environment. Why success is so ephemeral? Ego shortens it. Whether a collapse is dramatic or a slow erosion, it is always possible and often unnecessary. We stop learning, we stop listening and we lose our grasp of what matters. We become victims of ourselves and the competition. Sobriety, open-mindedness, organization and purpose – these are the great stabilizers. They balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition.
Always A Student – If you’re not still learning, you’re already dying.
Too often we stay in our comfort zone that ensures we never felt stupid. It stops us from growing. Find learning to be enjoyable, face challenges and be humbled, engage education as an ongoing and endless process.
Don’t Tell Yourself A Story – Instead of pretending that we are living some great story, we must remain focused on the execution – and on executing with excellence. We must shun the false crown and continue working on what got us here, because that’s the only thing that will keep us here.
What’s Important to You? – We are never happy with what we have, we want what others have too. We want to have more than everyone else. We start out knowing what is important to us, but once we have achieved it, we lose sight of our priorities. Ego sways us and can ruin us.
Competitiveness, though an important force in life that drives the market and behind some most important accomplishments, but on individual level it is absolutely critical to know who we are competing with and why. Don’t follow ego who wants you to be better than everyone everywhere! Know your own race.
Find out why you are after what you are after. Ignore those who mess with your pace.
Entitlement, Control and Paranoia – A smart man or woman must regularly remind themselves of the limits of their power and reach.
Entitlement assumes: this is mine, I have earned it.
Control says: it must be done my way, even little inconsequential things.
Paranoia thinks: I can’t trust anyone.
All these three aspects are the results of ego. Gain your freedom during your success by stop doing these three things.
Managing Yourself – Learn how to manage yourself and others, before the industry eats you alive. Micromanagers are egotists who cant manage others and they quickly get overloaded. So do charismatic visionaries who loses interests when it’s time to execute.
Set top-level goals and priorities of the organization and your life. Then enforcing and observing them. To produce results and only results.
Beware the Disease of Me – It’s beginning to think that we are better, that we are special, that our problems and experiences incredibly different from everyone else’s that no one could possibly understand. It’s an attitude that has sunk far better people, teams and causes than ours.
Meditate on the Immensity – When we lack a connection to anything larger or bigger than us, it’s like a piece of our soul is gone. No wonder we find success empty. Connect to the bigger force and the history by removing ego.
Maintain Your Sobriety – Most successful people are people you have never heard of. They want it that way. It keeps them sober, it helps them to do their jobs.
Here we are experiencing the trials endemic to any journey. Perhaps we have failed, perhaps our goal turned out to be harder to achieve than anticipated. No one is permanently successful, and not everyone finds success on the first attempt. We all deal with setbacks along the way. Ego not only leaves us unprepared for these circumstances, it often contributed to their occurrence in the first place. The way through, the way to rise again, requires a reorientation and increased self-awareness. We don’t need pity – our own or anyone else’s – we need purpose, poise and patience.
When we face difficulty, ego will show its true colors. I knew you couldn’t do it.. Why did you even try? This isn’t worth it, this isn’t fair.. We are not the problem.. It adds self injury to every injury you experience.
Get through without constant validation.
Alive Time or Dead Time? – According to Robert Greene, there are two types of times in our lives. Dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second. Every moment of failure, every moment we did not deliberately choose or control, present the choice of these two types of times.
Failure is an opportunity and can be used for our own purposes. Dont let ego make it as dead time for us.
The Effort is Enough – The less attached we are to the outcomes, the better. With ego, we need to be recognized. Without ego, fulfilling our own standard is enough, the outcomes – good or bad – does not matter.
Fight Club Moments – In Fight Club, the character has to firebomb his own apartment to finally break through. In facing failure, we often are pushed to face the reality, no longer we can hide or pretend. We can change or we can deny, it is up to us.
“A team, like men, must be brought to its knees before it can rise again” – Vince Lombardi.
Draw the Line – Failure, like success, is just a phase, not a statement of our value as human being.
Maintain Your Own Score Card – Judge ourselves with our own standards, let go ego that says how amazing we are, it won’t help us if we want to improve.
Always Love – For all that pisses us of, try to love them instead, or just let go. Because hate will get you every time and will not get us to where we want to be.