Ego is the Enemy

Book Review: Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

About the author:

Ryan Holiday is an editor-at-large for the New York Observer and former Director of Marketing at American Apparel. His other bestsellers include Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator and The Obstacle Is the Way.

About the book:

Ego is the Enemy outlines the dangers of egotism and the strategies we can use to rein in our pride, using historical and cultural examples. From finding a mentor to learning how to delegate tasks, these blinks show us why staying grounded can secure future success.

My Highlights:

What’s in it for me? Learn how to tame your ego.

A moderate, healthy ego is often crucial to success in life. It allows us to engage in competition, convince others of our strengths and surpass our past achievements. All too often, however, when we experience success, our ego becomes inflated. Our perception can get clouded as our self-image rises above our view of others. We can become so confident that we overextend ourselves and end up paying for it.So, taming our pride is a crucial step – but how do we do that?

Ego is the desire to gain recognition without working for it.

Ego is the desire to get fame and recognition without doing the good deeds that are required for us to deserve it. While recognition may result from being successful, many people try to become famous before they achieve success.
Unlike ego, ambition is based on a solid foundation of real achievements.
While egoists chase after fame, ambitious people are driven by the will to excel in their field, regardless of whether they are congratulated and celebrated for their successes.

Rein in your ego by reminding yourself that there’s always more to learn.

Ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus once said, “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows.” This, again, relates to our ego. Our ego tells us that we’re too clever to learn anything new, and while this assumption is a stubborn one, we can overcome it if we learn to humble ourselves.One way we can control our ego is by thinking of ourselves as students that never stop learning.
Reminding yourself that there’s always someone who’s better than you.
If you want to remind yourself that you’ve always got more to learn, you can find yourself a highly-skilled mentor. But working with someone more talented isn’t the only way to stay grounded; you can also become a teacher.

Pride makes us deaf to warnings and blind to things we could improve.

Resting on our laurels is a result of our pride. Pride and ego aren’t the same thing, but they definitely go hand-in-hand. Pride helps us justify our ego, making us feel like a single success is a sign of how special we are. We’re too busy patting ourselves on the back to see that there’s room for improvement, or that we could achieve even greater things. Pride doesn’t just stop us from continuing to learn and achieve, it also makes us overly sensitive to criticism and deaf to warnings.
Rather than face the fact that we’re not the best in the world at what we do, many of us are more willing to fight anything that hurts our pride and ego.

Keep your ego in check by learning to delegate tasks and trust your team.

Do you have trouble trusting teammates or coworkers? Ever feel like you can’t give them tasks to do because they just wouldn’t do as good a job as you? These are some serious signs that your ego needs reining in. Try placing trust in other people’s work – you and your team will benefit from it.
Our ego tells us that we’re the only ones who can do them right. By practicing delegation, you’ll force yourself to trust and respect the work of others. You’ll learn that other people’s time might actually be put to better use on the tasks that you used to do, and you’ll also see how useful your time can be when dedicated to new things.

We owe much of our success to others, and shouldn’t hog the praise for ourselves.

Why do we love to think of our victories as ours alone? Whether we achieve success after tackling adversity or just through hard work, it’s far too easy to let accomplishments go to our heads and let ourselves believe they were all our own doing.
Rather than selfishly seeking out praise for yourself, why not share the accolades with others? Usually, they’ll do the same for you in return.
Thanking those who help you along the way will strengthen your own position. Your team will enjoy working with you and will perform better, and you’ll continue attracting new coworkers, too.

When you do your best and things don’t work out, find out why so you can do better next time.

If one of your great ideas gets rejected or you don’t get the job you applied for, it’s natural to feel frustrated. After all, our egos tell us that we’re entitled to receive rewards – but the world doesn’t always work in accordance with our plans. Sometimes, we don’t get a promotion or close a sure deal, even though we did our best. So how do we confront this? Rather than feeling disappointed, we can start by acknowledging the work we’ve done and recognize that we can’t always control the outcome of that work, or people’s opinions of us. An unexpected result should be welcomed as an opportunity to honestly reflect on our performance. And on the other side, we should remember that lucky breaks are not the same as success that comes from hard work. So, again, we have to be honest with ourselves about our performance.

Final summary

The key message in this book: An ego is not something a person develops on purpose; it is a part of everyone’s personality that develops naturally, especially in conjunction with success. An unchecked ego can end up being detrimental to your success, and you should take careful steps to ensure that it doesn’t get out of control.

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