Everybody “owns” an ego. However, the ego doesn’t serve your interest. It’s more likely that it will block your way to success.
In our summary of “Ego is the Enemy,” we show why having a big ego is bad for you, and what strategies you can utilize to neutralize the ego’s impact.
Who Should Read “Ego is the Enemy”? and Why?
“Ego is the Enemy” is a book that recommends that people stopped looking for their passions, and start looking for a purpose.
Author Ryan Holiday argues that accepting failure, learning from your mistakes and continuing to work hard is the only way to succeed. He shares stories about politicians, professional athletes and business leaders who have already learned harsh lessons about the dangerous side of ego. He also shares anecdotes about amazing quiet workers who made significant differences in the world and remained unknown.
We recommend “Ego is the Enemy” for all readers who want to move forward by working on self-improvement.
If you want to tame your ego, Ryan Holiday will show you how.
About Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is a best-selling author and the former director of marketing at American Apparel.
“Ego is the Enemy Summary”
Every ambitious person has an ego. People who work to improve their skills and to meet their goals have an ego. Scientists, artists, athletes, and entrepreneurs achieve their goals by desiring to create and discover.
However, most of the time, ego is the driver of these activities. Getting ahead is necessary. However, too much of anything is a bad thing: too much ego will have the opposite impact and stop your progress.
Ego fuels self-congratulatory, lazy daydreaming. It undermines your capability to grow.
To accurately assess your strengths, accept a feeling of confidence and humility. Recognize that also ego can offer you the comfort of self-satisfaction, it can make you blind to opportunity.
If you wish to become great, you have to realize that greatness is a quiet act. Know the difference between working to get something accomplished and working for recognition.
Being “somebody” is much easier than getting things done.
You have probably heard or read advice on finding your passion many times before. However, this can be wrong advice, since passion leads to enthusiasm, and thoughtful deliberation suffers in the process.
Passion fills you with excitement and energy that can hide weaknesses. However, those flaws are bound to appear eventually.
So, our advice to you is that instead of passion, you look for purpose.
Furthermore, feelings of resentment, anger or pride can cloud your reasoning.
Accept that you are not unique or irreplaceable just because you studied in a good school, you are a hard worker, or your family is influential.
You may think your colleagues are frustrating or your boss is rude, but just pointing the finger at everyone and thinking you deserve better will not get you anywhere.
Instead, focus on your work and value the lessons that you get along the way. We promise you, you will be much happier.
Key Lessons from “Ego is the Enemy”
1. “The Canvas Strategy”
2. Problems with Narratives
3. Keeping the Motion
“The Canvas Strategy”
The canvas strategy translates as: be a canvas for other people to paint on. In other words, you should move from the short-term satisfaction that resentment gives you, and embrace the long-term “magic” of self-development.
To use the canvas strategy, whenever you start out some work, keep the following ideas in mind:
- Chances are you will need to cultivate a better attitude.
- You are not as good or important as you may believe you are.
- You do not know everything, and you need to gain more knowledge than your education gave you.
Your success will often come along with the success of other people around you. So, work to make the work of people that surround you easier. You may get an initial feeling of subservience, but starting at the bottom gives you a chance to learn how something works.
Problems with Narratives
Stop talking and start doing. Social media, for instance, encourages a lot talk and very little productivity. Posting updates all on your social media profiles focuses your attention on words over action. Status and picture updates create the false impression of confidence and accomplishment. However, all of that talk just takes up your energy that you could use for doing real work.
Furthermore, goal visualization may help you to focus at the beginning of a project, but when you do it in the midst of your work, it gives a misleading impression of progress.
Everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are part of human experience. Being a creative person or an entrepreneur requires you to take risks, and risks do not always yield positive outcomes.
The problem is not a failure. The problem is identifying with failure.
Your ego makes you think that there are only two options: success or failure.
However, failure is not who you are – it is what you did. Let that resonate, and you will feel much better.
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“Ego is the Enemy” QuotesDoing great work is a struggle. It’s draining, it’s demoralizing, it’s frightening – not always, but it can feel that way when we’re deep in the middle of it. We talk to fill the void and the uncertainty. Click To Tweet The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice because it prevents us from getting any better. Click To Tweet Be lesser, do more. Imagine if, for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. Click To Tweet You’re not able to change the system until after you’ve made it. In the meantime, you’ll have to find some way to make it suit your purposes – even if those purposes are just extra time to develop properly, to learn from others on their… Click To Tweet Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of – that’s the metric to measure yourself against. Your standards are. Winning is not enough. People can get lucky and win. People can be assholes and win. Anyone can win. But not everyone… Click To Tweet
Our Critical Review
“Ego is the Enemy” is a book written in a warm and conversational style. The chapters are short and easily understandable so just about anyone can read it. However, if you decide to read it, be prepared for some repetition and similar topics in a few different entries.
[NEW] “Ego is The Enemy” Extended Summary
Many people do not know, but the most significant deterrent to your success lies in you: it’s your ego. It keeps you from learning new things, hinders you from seeing your mistakes and seduces you into believing you are better than everyone else. Do not be fooled: he does not want you to succeed.
The battle against the ego is complicated, but we can not give up. If you want to learn some tactics not to be dominated by your ego or if you want to find out how to be a better person and achieve success with humility, read this microbook!
Think Great But Have Attitude
Our culture has raised a generation of people who believe they can achieve great things with ease. And that, in fact, makes us weaker. Instead of working hard to win things, we expect success in exchange for nothing. Apparently, everyone has talent and potential, but that’s just the beginning; What you generate from it is what makes all the difference.
Some valuable traits are humility, diligence, and self-knowledge; they help you to improve. Thinking big is a good thing, but to achieve what you want, you need to learn to live with little. Be focused on your education and attitude, ignore any status and validations, keep your ego under control.
Have a Larger Purpose
Youthful idealism is invaded by aspects of reality that redirect people to do things to “be” someone. The ego is to blame for our change of thought. We begin to pretend to be who we are not to achieve what we want. It is very easy to be corrupted by your occupation.
The ego tends to erase what matters and systematically replace it with irrelevant things. The choices we have are based on our purposes and what we believe to be our reason for living. What you choose to do with your time and work, reflect who you will become.
Let your purpose not be selfish, but instead something greater than yourself. That is a much more authentic path. Over time, things get easier because the choices will seem more obvious and the rest may seem distracting and tempting. But all decisions will need to follow strict guidelines, moral and values.
Be An Eternal Student
As a student, you are aware that you are not better than your teacher. And it puts a roof over your ego, keeping you from losing control. This allows you to respect your master and deserve what you have achieved. There are no shortcuts to an education; it takes persistence and hard work. Through mutual collaboration, the student and the teacher can improve.
Although greatness requires trust, it also needs humility. You can not find answers to your questions if you are too arrogant to ask. Looking for your flaws, you may be stronger. The ego will try to avoid negative or critical feedbacks, which hinders you from reaching your potential. The ego is disconnected from reality, giving us false feedback by making us believe that we do not need to improve.
Leave Passion Behind
There are many events, conferences, and workshops that inspire passion. What people do not realize is that passion can be what hinders you. Passion leads us to make mistakes. Passion comes from truth and good intentions, but its results can be harmful.
Passionate people are always busy with some activity but rarely do they get anything. This is the paradox that passion causes. Passion seems to disrupt our cognitive processes and can be a waste of time. To achieve our goals, we need to have healthy doses of realism and a strong sense of purpose. Purpose gives us passion, with limits and reality, allowing unbiased perspectives.
Realism enables you to ask the necessary questions, whose answers will help you achieve your goals. Passion is usually naive and does not take you very far. Leave passion for amateurs, for those who will never reach their potentials. To do great things, you need to leave passion behind!
Be An Apprentice
People usually feel nervous and devalued, forced to do things they do not want, by working in exchange for payments or favors (as apprentices). While it is not fun to serve others, the apprenticeship system was responsible for some of the most significant visionaries that ever existed. A great example is Leonardo da Vinci who was an apprentice. Those who became big needed to start somewhere. You can not be big without first being small.
Many young people do not want to suffer the shame of serving others. However, you can think of it differently: you are no slave to anyone; instead, you are offering support for someone to teach you and for you to merit climbing. That means opening the way for the people above, to create a path for you as well.
This system reduces young people’s ego to critical points, allowing them to absorb the directions they receive. You will not be able to conquer many things if you let your sense of superiority control your way of working. Always looking for a way to help others, you will start to be indispensable and learn a lot on the way. Everything you do for others can be seen as an investment in your personal development. It is easy to be angry at circumstances – the ego always chooses the easiest routes.
Regardless of what you have or how important you think it is, when you want to do something great, you will be mistreated by people who do not care. Your ego can inflate and wish to respond, but that is not the proper reaction.
An ego is an impulse that can have very adverse effects. Your ego feeds your indulgence and wants you to respond to criticism. Those who want to achieve great things must first learn to overcome difficulties. Use your time wisely, pay your debts and develop into something better than you ever imagined.
Live in reality and do not be overwhelmed by imagination.
Some teens believe the whole world is watching them. Psychologists call this phenomenon “imaginary public,” and adolescents are most affected. However, this can continue into adulthood, and we give into our fantasy our feelings of doubt, fear or normality. We are all likely to let our imaginations rule our lives, and the more creative you are, the more tempted you are to make that happen.
We need to take control of our perceptions and not let our imagination in power. It takes courage to live in reality, but ultimately, it’s worth it. When things are uncomfortable you know, they are real, and you can adjust your needs to get where you want.
Be Careful With Your Pride
In Christianity, pride is a sin. Presumption and arrogance can lead a person to believe that it is better than reality. You do not have to be religious to understand that pride can blind you and keep you from seeing the truth.
You need to keep your mind sharp to achieve great things, but pride leaves your mind lazy and prevents you from getting anywhere. It affects your most essential skills such as your ability to learn, adapt and flexibility. It creates a barrier between you and reality, changing your perception.
Pride and ego go well together, and the results can be disastrous. Pride is an emotional fraud; working hard and struggling, you will not need to cheat – there should be no room for pride in your work. Pride leads you to a self-satisfaction that becomes a disability.
This feeling can make you delusional, generating arrogance. Success should not ruin you, disrupt your judgment or let you forget who you are. Pride disturbs your senses and fills you with negative thoughts.
Always Work Hard
Many great inventors, artists, and entrepreneurs have come to the same conclusion: an idea is nothing without hard work. To achieve anything, you need to work first, and that’s the hard part. To get where you want, you do not need to be brilliant, but you need ongoing effort and work. The idea may seem annoying, but it is a motivation. That means success is available to everyone. What we dream is within reach, because we only need to work to achieve. This concept frustrates the ego since the ego likes to believe that it is already successful. Our ego wants ideas and aspirations to be sufficient. He prefers credit, praise, or status in place of true success. But in reality, that leads to nothing – we need to put our energy into something to be successful.
Be Humble And Learn To Adapt
Knowledge does not mean that we know everything, but that we accept the fact that we know little. Understanding requires continuous and flexible learning. Humility supports learning because it negates arrogance, which prevents us from pursuing. Being humble will open your mind to new possibilities.
Always try to watch and listen, and in return, you are always improving. Do not just be a student, in the beginning, adopt that mentality for life. And so you will be able to learn from everyone and everything. Even if you learn something you already know, do not let your ego keep you from practicing one more time.We like to convince ourselves that we are so smart, that challenges are unnecessary. But in fact, we are afraid of failures.
Allow your mind and environment to change, look for uncomfortable moments, and be a student who enjoys that feeling. Instead of being an amateur on the defensive, realize that by trying, your possibilities will be endless. Learn to change and adapt.
People and businesses usually stagnate and fail if they do not continually learn to improve and work with life’s changes. Do not live a life of ignorance, learn how to learn and be a lifelong student.
Stop Telling Stories
It is part of human nature to want to create stories about what we can do or will do. Unfortunately, they are usually lies, which can become arrogance. Turning our lives into stories, we forget to live our lives. The formation of an idea is a very messy situation; there are no bright moments in the development of anything.
Creating a narrative of a confused situation makes it seem effortless and as if there is a clear path to follow, even when there is none. Life does not support its plans; it is messy and unpredictable. There will be good and bad times. You can not look back and say that it happened exactly as you wanted it to happen.
The only way to do great things in the world is to start with small things and work to get at your big goals. There is nothing wrong with great ambitions, but do not let your ego take control. Step by step and day by day, you can work on great ideas.
Maybe you’ll change the world someday. Do not try to do more than you can do; this is the way to failure. You need to work, be persistent, dedicate yourself, and sometimes have a bit of luck.
Do Not Worry About Approval
Everybody says ‘yes,’ sometimes when they do not want to say. Sometimes we also spend time doing things we did not want to do, just to impress others. That is the path followed by the ego, a wasted life worrying about what others see in us, rather than worrying about our happiness. The ego corrupts all people; they change their viewpoints and completely forget what they wanted before.
When people achieve success very early, they become confused about the original direction, and the ego tends to take control, partly thanks to the influence of other people. As you become successful, you will meet other successful people too, who will often make you feel insignificant, as these people are controlled by their egos. And this is a terrible cycle.
Competition is good at a certain point and can even help people achieve great things. However, as an individual, it is essential to know who you are competing with and why you are competing. Do this for yourself, not for others. You will not reach your real potential if you are seeking approval from others.
The ego cares very much about the opinions of others and only lives to achieve this approval. Spend some time working on what is important to you. If you achieve success only in the eyes of others, you will not be happy, and it will not be worth it.
Share Your Success, Don’t Be Selfish
Success usually gives you some power, and power is one of the biggest disappointments. Power has three dangerous characteristics: authority, control, and paranoia. It can cause anyone to lose their perspective and lose the notion of reality. The ego is the enemy of all; it will not only hurt you but also the people around you. Be smart and remember your limits and failures.
Authority, in this case, makes you see others as expendable, and you as the most important person. It makes you believe that you have the right to everything, even if you do not deserve it. Control makes you want to do everything your way, even the little things. And the paranoia makes you believe that you’re alone.
These bad feelings will make you a prisoner of your fears and disappointments, causing chaos. And this is a terrible cycle, and once inside it, it’s hard to leave. Do not let your ego encourage your selfishness, remember that we are all connected. Share your success and accomplishments with others and make a better world out of it.
Be Organized And Care For Others
When you are working alone, clutter can be overcome by hard work or luck. But after a while, organization and correct management are keys to success. Big companies with their cultures of order and discipline may seem stifling, but that’s the only way to work. You may have good ideas, but if you are unable to organize, you will continue to have only ideas.
In big business, employees need direction and responsible management for their superiors. If there is no accountability at the top, then the rest will fall into chaos.
Most creative people go against this idea. Many believe they can do different things without order and control. However, there is a reason to find order and control in every successful business: why it works! When all the people involved work for the same goal, it can be achieved.
Order must be prioritized over your own desires. Disorganization usually arises from the ego, when you believe that your way of doing things is right, regardless of the signs that are in front of you.
But how can you take care of other people if you are disorganized and irresponsible? It’s important to remember that you cannot stay static, your responsibilities will grow with you. You need to be adaptable and keep upgrading.
Many decisions will be required if you want to lead others. Choose a system that matches your way of working. Everyone needs to be managed; you can not do everyone’s work and still have time to focus on the whole.
Your Effort Must Be Sufficient
You can not control the judgment of the world over your work. You can control the work you do and how you present it, but the world can still turn against you. Your ego needs to be under control so you can deal with that response. You need to understand that doing your job well done should be enough, not for others, but for you.
If you have no control over the reward of your work and effort, does that mean you will not do anything? The ego will want you to stop trying if you know there is no guarantee of reward or recognition. However, many great people in history have not received attention for their work but are still remembered, after centuries.
Do not let the results be your motivation, be encouraged by your efforts. No doubt you will fail, but do not let that define you. Rest assured that you have done your best to be who you want to be. Do not allow the outside world measure your effort. The fact that you have tried and given your best should be enough to propel you to continue.
Avoid The Ego; It Is Your Enemy
There will be hard times in life. Moments when you are alone against a world of adversity. But, you know what? You can overcome this. All great people excelled. And you’re great; you have the potential to succeed and fail. You will do all these things and start over. You can survive everything that stands in your way and is a better version of yourself.
There is no avoiding failure. We all experience failure at some point. What matters is how you deal with the situation. Can you maintain your integrity? Or do you choose to give up and be defeated? Remember that you can learn much more from failure than from success. Mistakes are a form of education. You will learn, grow, and figure out how to avoid the same error.
Remember to avoid ego. It will make things much more difficult. It will make your aspirations and success much more difficult and will make the failure permanent.
Try to understand yourself better. Learn what drives you to work hard, what motivates you. Discover your purpose and the ego will stay behind. All great men and women have something in common: they suffered, and in their suffering, they found the tools and strength to make them great.
Through this book, we can see how the ego can be harmful. Your ego will always confront you. And if you want to be successful, self-knowledge is a critical point.
Also, keep working hard; do not forget always to be a student and seek to learn as much as you can from all people, someone still has something new to teach. Be organized and do not let other people’s opinions get you on the road to success!