Ego is the Enemy

It’s a must read!

I have recently came to a decision that I needed to reinvent myself, unlearn everything I know, relearn and acquire new knowledge based on the different perspectives and experiences I have been living, celebrating and embracing. The library has always been my home base and headquarters. It’s where I go to report my success, failure and experiences before embarking on new missions, obstacles and challenges. I go there, let go of everything “I know” and just like a magical magnet I get attracted to everything “I don’t know”.

Ego is the enemy by Ryan Holiday caught my attention. It’s something I have always been saying and practicing despite being accused by many, who don’t know me, for being arrogant and having huge ego. (On a side note, Robert Greene – Author of the 48 laws of power, says “If you prefer to not play the game and to always be honest and upfront, do not complain when others call you obnoxious and arrogant). I felt some reassurance when I read the title because on one hand, when I recruit sales consultants, I make sure that ego will not stand in the way of them closing a deal with a potential customer, especially if they can’t handle rejections. And on the other hand, when I fire a team member it’s usually because they are image and comfort oriented instead of essence and real value driven.

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Many have intense ambition and want to do great things in this world, yet ego gets in the way sometimes. Take it from a crazy entrepreneur; The path of ambition can be dangerous especially that, often we fall in love with an image of what success looks like. Ryan Holiday says that ego, is the enemy we need to deal with, if we want to be truly successful and live a happy life.

Let’s be honest here, at some point in life, you will have to make a decision, do you want to BE an impressive person or you want to DO impressive things?  Do you want to accomplish things or do you want to look like someone who accomplishes things?

Usually, people are afraid of admitting that they’re scared, struggling and don’t know what they’re doing. Ego is standing in their way! I personally often feel scared, especially today where there are lots of sudden changes happening in the uncertain world around me. Yet I don’t let it control me for one simple reason, I have come to a realization that time is my most valuable asset and that I need to take advantage of all the time I have on this earth. This is why I understand that “Appearances are deceiving. Having authority is not the same as being an authority. Having the right and being right are not the same either. Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.” – Ryan Holiday.

Holiday’s definition of ego is very straightforward; Ego is an unhealthy belief in your own importance. It’s when confidence becomes arrogance. In fact, the main difference is that confidence is earned based on accomplishment and effort, while the ego is just a delusional projection and wishful thinking.

Another danger of ego is that it makes us fear the embarrassment of failure and ultimately makes us cowards. Holiday quotes Seneca: “He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a living man.”

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The book talks about the three phases of our lives: Aspire, success, and failure.  Ego shows up in different ways in each of those phases. Many examples and stories of famous leaders are mentioned so that we learn from their experiences. Honestly we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we are all humans and throughout history we will keep on facing similar challenges.

I took notes of these important recommendations:

1- Forget passion focus on a purpose: don’t be passionate be purpose-driven, be humble and start to show up.

Based on the stories mentioned in the book, you will understand why Holiday will ask you to be driven by reason and not by passion! “Passion typically masks a weakness. Its breathlessness, impetuousness and franticness are poor substitutes for discipline, mastery, strength, purpose and perseverance.”

Purpose is better than passion! In fact, purpose is directed and calculated, you know what you need to do, what you need to put up with and what you must endure. You know that you must be patient, committed and give everything that you have to it. Unlike passion which is for so many people undirected with no calculations.

“Facts are better than dreams” – Churchill

2- Don’t fake it until you make it! Make it so that you don’t need to fake it. 

Just imagine if a doctor is faking it until he makes it! You will need to do what you’re supposed to do. I always tell the sales consultants I train, people lie but numbers don’t! You can hide behind your diplomas, family and friends as much as you want, but at the end of the day your numbers of how many sales you have closed will show how good you are.

3- Identify what your path is, to figure out what you’re here to do in this world.
In order to know that path, ask yourself, why do you do what you do?  Who do I want to be? What path will I take? 
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Stare at these questions until you have an answer. Find out why you’re after what you’re after. Ignore those who mess with your pace. Let them covet what you have, not the other way around. Because that’s Independence.
Then you will need to stay true to your path while ignoring all the other options. Everybody else is doing things in different ways and you may think that they are ahead of you. They’re not! Stay true to your path ignore the distractions, ignore the comparisons.
When you have that clarity, courage and consistency to stay on your true path over a long run, you will have a certain level of tranquility while you’re not worried about how someone else is doing because it’s their life and you’re not in a race with them! You’re focused on being who you are. What you’re here to do, is the only thing occupying your attention. This is why happy people do not spend a lot of time comparing themselves to others.

4Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble?

Holiday believes there is one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way’. – Arrogance and self-absorption inhibit growth. We need humility, diligence, and self-awareness.

5- Stay a student and progress with silence.

“Do you know what is scarce and rare? Silence which is the respite of the confident and the strong!”

“You can’t learn if you think you already know” – Epictetus

“As people progress, they must also understand how they learn and then set up processes to facilitate this continual education. Otherwise, we are dooming ourselves to a sort of self-imposed ignorance. Silence the noise around you so that you can finally hear the quiet voice you needed to listen to. Most successful people are people you’ve never heard of, They want it that way! It keeps them sober. It helps them do their jobs.”

As a conclusion, I want to thank Ryan Holiday for this honest eye opener and interesting journey into ego and its effect on our lives and decision-making process. This is one of those books that give the reader much to reflect on and apply to their own lives in dealing with their own inevitable intrusion of ego.

A finale note, having a purpose beyond your existence will always be more important than your success and failure. It will help you be in control of your ego and emotions, not the opposite.

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