Ego Is The Enemy Book Summary, by Ryan Holiday

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1-Page Summary of Ego Is The Enemy

What Is Ego?

Ambition can be a driving force for success. People who are ambitious have ego. Ego is necessary to achieve goals, but it can also become unhealthy and block progress.

Ego can be a dangerous thing. It’s when you’re so wrapped up in yourself that you don’t realize what others are saying about you or even how they feel around you. You think too highly of yourself and your work, which leads to laziness and self-congratulatory behavior. If ego is defined as “self-centered ambition,” then it undermines the connection with others by not listening to them or engaging with them effectively enough to succeed on your own terms. Ego offers comfort because it gives us something to rely on, but we need humility along with confidence if we want our strengths truly evaluated accurately and objectively rather than clouded by our own perceptions of ourselves.

Aspiring to Greatness

Greatness is often an understated act. John Boyd was a fighter pilot who helped revolutionize modern warfare across the US armed forces, but he isn’t widely known for his contributions. He once asked his soldiers if they wanted to be somebody or do something important and meaningful. It’s much easier to be someone than it is to accomplish something meaningful.

Popular wisdom says that we should find our passion, but that’s not always the best advice. Passion can lead to enthusiasm and excitement, which can hide weaknesses in a person or product. Instead of passionate pursuits, it’s better to seek purpose with reasons and goals behind them.

Restraint is important. It helps you focus on what you’re doing and be open to new lessons along the way. If your boss or coworkers are rude, don’t react by being angry or resentful; instead, try to understand where they’re coming from and how that might improve your work in the future.

“The Canvas Strategy”

The canvas strategy is built on the idea of restraint. As a new employee, you should shift away from resentment and towards self-development. To follow this strategy, keep these ideas in mind:

  • You should probably work on your attitude.

  • You may think you are not as good as you believe, and that your ideas aren’t important.

  • You are not an expert in everything, and you need to learn more than what your education taught you.

It’s quite likely that you will be successful alongside the success of others. You can make their jobs easier by doing small tasks for them and introducing people, so they might collaborate. The best way to overcome your ego is to find ways to help your boss. If you “clear the path” for other people, you’ll have a say in what course they take.

Problems with Narratives

People should stop talking and start doing. Social media encourage people to talk a lot, but they should focus on productivity instead. People who post updates on Facebook and Twitter are misleading themselves into thinking that they’re accomplished due to their many posts. Posting status updates misleads people into believing that they have confidence, ability and accomplishment when it’s just their ego inflating itself.

Gawker blogger Emily Gould described how she struggled to write her novel. She had a six-figure book deal, but she was always distracted by social media and the Internet. This made it difficult for her to get work done in a timely manner, because those distractions were taking up time that could have been spent writing. However, she convinced herself that these distractions were necessary; after all, they helped build her personal brand on Tumblr and Twitter. In the relentless pursuit of building your personal brand, people lose sight of what really matters: accomplishments. They start focusing more on fictional advertisements than actual results or progress towards their goals. Some people like to mutter thoughts out loud as they’re working through problems or trying to figure something out, but studies show this actually slows down the process of discovery. Likewise, goal visualization helps you at the beginning of projects (so you can set realistic expectations for yourself), but after a while it produces an unrealistic sense that you’ve actually made progress when you haven’t yet achieved anything tangible. When things are hard, talking doesn’t help ; in fact, sometimes it makes things worse by giving people false hope about making real progress towards their goals

Stories of success make it seem like success is inevitable. However, you can reject the pieces that don’t fit your narrative and tell a different story. This can be misleading because it gives false clarity about how you got to where you are now. It also distracts from the hard work that’s required after achieving your goals. People who have achieved great things often mislead others by suggesting they’ve reached their pinnacle when in reality there’s more work to do in order to maintain what was previously accomplished.

Learning Focus

Pride is dangerous. It inhibits learning and can make you think that you’re better than others when you aren’t. Instead, maintain a student mind-set by acknowledging that there’s always more to learn from someone else. Success doesn’t make you a master; it just means that now there are people who look up to and respect what you’ve done so far. Learn from someone who has more skill or experience than yourself because they can teach you things that will help improve your skillset. Working with someone at your level helps develop finesse and dexterity in whatever it is that they do as well as yourself since both of you are working together towards the same goal/objective instead of being competitive with each other for position/rank etc..

It’s easier to maintain a student mind-set when you’re first starting out. Success can lead people to overestimate their knowledge, and the more you know, the more you realize that there is still so much more for you to learn.

Great jazz musician Wynton Marsalis once told someone to be humble, explaining that it’s evident in those who don’t think they know everything. As you learn, figure out what your learning style is and repeat the things that work for you.

The theory of disruption says that every industry will encounter a change that no one predicted. When this happens, established business models won’t be able to respond effectively because they’ve become too comfortable with their current methods of doing things. Newcomers are more agile and can take advantage of the situation by studying their competitors to learn which changes would help them grow in the market place.

“Standard of Performance”

Bill Walsh, a professional football coach, established a Standard of Performance for the San Francisco 49ers. He took them from one of the worst teams to Super Bowl champions in three years. People think he had a vision and executed it, but that’s not true. Instead, he focused on what his team members needed to do at certain times and how they should do it.

Bill Walsh insisted on small rules for his team to follow: players had to stand while they were practicing, coaches had to wear tucked-in shirts and ties, and the locker room should be clean. These little things helped create a sense of excellence in the team that carried over into their game performance. After winning the Super Bowl, however, they became complacent and stopped following these rules because they thought it was enough just to win once. However, when they started following those rules again after two years of losing games, they became champions again by accepting their Standard of Performance as what would help them win consistently.

Accept Failure

Mistakes are inevitable. Entrepreneurs and creative people take risks, and sometimes they don’t work out. The problem isn’t failing; it’s believing that failure is who you are. Ego confuses success with failure, thinking that if something fails then it must be a sign of your own incompetence or self-worthlessness.

When Dov Charney was the CEO of American Apparel, he cost the company $300 million and created a lot of negative publicity for them. The board asked him to step down, but he refused. He then filed a lawsuit to vindicate himself, which ended in failure.

Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he founded. He fought against the decision but didn’t let it ruin him. Instead, he sold all his shares of Apple and started a new venture called Pixar Animation Studios. After learning some hard lessons about management failures, Jobs eventually returned to Apple and made it an even better company than before.

Failure is an opportunity to learn. If you’re not successful, try to figure out what went wrong and change your behavior accordingly.

Check Yourself

When people first succeed, they may act irrationally. If their success came from a lucky guess, they should be aware that they didn’t know what would lead to success in the future. When others applaud their greatness after initial successes, those successful people should stay calm and humble.

Consider Angela Merkel, one of the most powerful women in the world. She didn’t take Putin’s show of aggression personally and she remained calm in a difficult situation. As she said, “You can’t solve problems with charisma.”

Success makes people feel larger than life. Stress reinforces their sense of importance. Similarly, rebukes or failures hurt people’s inflated egos. Tame your ego by observing the vastness of the universe; “meditate on immensity.” Observe nature and find something that allows you to connect with it. Let go of your desire for retaliation or efforts to reinforce its value in society. See how grand the world is and realize that you’re just a small part of it. Ego is “the disease of me,” but there are many things out there besides yourself that are more important than you are as an individual person

People should do things for the sake of doing them. They shouldn’t focus on success or failure, but rather on putting in enough effort to achieve their goal. When a person focuses too much on achieving success, they’re driven by ego and may end up being ridiculed or sabotaged, not receiving the recognition they want from others such as public praise or financial success. Instead of focusing on what other people think about your work, just put in enough effort into it that you can be satisfied with it yourself. If you can’t be satisfied with your own work then maybe this isn’t something you should pursue after all.

Learn What Matters to You

Ego makes everything about the self. Genuine self-awareness diminishes ego by allowing the self to grow and change. Ask, “What’s important to you?” so that you can focus on yourself instead of external measures of success. Learn what matters to you so that you’re true to yourself. Recognize that there are many things in life for which we should be grateful, such as our health and family members who love us unconditionally. Abandon your ego’s attachment to success and commit instead to a path of constant improvement with humility, gratitude, and kindness toward others along the way.

Full Summary of Ego Is The Enemy


No one sets out to be arrogant, but it’s a common problem. In fact, most successful people have an inflated ego. However, you should pay attention to this because it can hurt your success if you don’t keep it in check.

A moderate ego is often crucial to success. It allows us to compete, convince others of our strengths and surpass our past achievements. However, when we experience success, it can inflate our egos so much that we overextend ourselves and pay for it.

So, taming our pride is a crucial step in overcoming the problems we face. But how can we do that?

In this article, you will learn where ego comes from and how it can get in the way of your success. You’ll also learn ways to control ego, be humble again, and share your accomplishments with others instead of seeking praise for them.

This book will also teach you why Ulysses S. Grant was a great egoist, how Kirk Hammett from Metallica kept his ego in check, and what the New England Patriots did to find one of the best quarterbacks of all time.

Big Idea #1: Ego is an excessive desire for recognition and power.

As they say, actions speak louder than words. However, we still want to be popular and get praise for things that we haven’t done.

Ego is responsible for that.

People sometimes want to become famous without doing the good deeds that are required for them to deserve it. Many people try to be successful before they achieve success.

The story of Ulysses S. Grant, a general in the US Army during the American Civil War and later president of the United States, is an example of how egoism can be effective. Grant had little experience in politics but was still able to win a presidential election because he wanted it so badly.

Ambition is different from ego. Egoism is based on false achievements, while ambition comes from real accomplishments. Take the example of William Tecumseh Sherman and Ulysses Grant, two generals who served in the military together. Both were successful, but only one was an egotist; he wasn’t as good at his job as the other general was.

At the end of Lincoln’s second term, Grant and other military leaders wanted to use their reputations to compete for the role of president.

Sherman was ambitious and wanted to be the best at his job. Egoists, on the other hand, are driven by their own egos. They want fame and glory without really working hard for it.

When Lincoln was speaking with Sherman, it became clear that he didn’t want to be president. He preferred to remain in the military and continue being successful at that. He understood that success in one area doesn’t mean you’ll be equally successful in another field.

Big Idea #2: You should restrain your ego because you can always learn something new.

In the past, an ancient Greek philosopher said that it’s impossible to learn something new if you think you already know everything. This relates back to our ego because we think we’re too smart and clever for anything new. However, if we can humble ourselves and realize that there are things out there that we don’t know yet, then we can overcome this obstacle in learning new information.

One way to control your ego is by thinking of yourself as a student. You can remind yourself that you’re always learning and there are people who know more than you do.

Guitarist Kirk Hammett joined Metallica in 1980, but he didn’t stop learning. He became a student of world-renowned guitar virtuoso Joe Satriani and was able to take his guitar skills to a whole new level.

Hammett was able to stay humble by working with an immensely talented peer.

If you want to remind yourself that there’s always more to learn, you can find a mentor who is highly skilled. You don’t have to be the best at something in order to teach it; you just need passion and enthusiasm for your subject matter.

Martial arts expert Frank Shamrock believes that it’s important to train with people who are better than you, as well as those who are worse. This keeps your ego in check and allows you to stay humble. You can also learn a lot by training beginners.

Big Idea #3: When we’re proud, we don’t hear warnings and ignore things that could help us improve.

What if some of the world’s greatest inventors were too proud after their first success? For instance, what if Steve Jobs had been too proud to continue innovating after creating the Apple computer? Well, we wouldn’t have iPhones and iPads. It’s important to keep pushing yourself harder and not be satisfied with your past successes.

It’s easy to rest on our laurels when we’re proud of what we’ve done. Pride and ego aren’t the same thing, but they are related. Pride helps us justify our egos by thinking that a single success means that we’re better than others. In reality, there is always room for improvement or even greater achievements in the future.

Pride prevents people from learning and achieving, as well as making them defensive when they are told that they aren’t special.

Rather than accept that we are not the best in our field, many of us get defensive and refuse to acknowledge it. Even Benjamin Franklin was guilty of this at one point.

Benjamin Franklin was a very influential person. One day, he visited Boston and met his friend Cotton Mather who told him to stoop. Unfortunately, Ben thought that this was beneath him and decided not to do it. This proved to be a bad idea because he ended up walking into a low door frame head first!

If we want to get past our personal pride, it would be useful to see things from the perspective of someone less arrogant.

Big Idea #4: You should learn to trust your employees and delegate tasks to them.

If you have trouble trusting your coworkers, it could be a sign that your ego is out of control. Try placing trust in other people’s work instead—you and your team will benefit from it.

As you move up the ladder and become a manager, conflicts with your ego may occur. You might have been used to gaining recognition for your work, but now you are more of an overseer than anything else.

Many of us tend to do tasks ourselves because we think no one else can do them as well. This is a mistake, because our time could be spent on more important things. By letting others take over the work you used to handle, you’ll learn that they’re just as capable at doing it and that your time would be better spent elsewhere.

If you don’t delegate, your business will suffer. The costs of not delegating are pretty high and can really hurt your business.

John DeLorean left his job at General Motors because he thought he was a better car manufacturer than them. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case and it soon became apparent that he had no substance or expertise to back up his assumption.

The new company that he started had a different structure than GM. He didn’t want to have any hierarchy, but instead wanted to be involved in every decision. This was unsustainable and resulted in the failure of his business venture.

Big Idea #5: We can’t take all the credit for our success. Many people helped us to get where we are today, and we should acknowledge them.

No person is an island. So, even though we might think that our success was all of our own doing, it’s far too easy to become overly confident in ourselves and forget the role of others in helping us achieve what we have.

Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant were both phenomenal basketball players. They played for the Los Angeles Lakers, which was a great team that won three championships in 2000, 2001, and 2002. Unfortunately, they let their egos get to them during those years.

Shaquille O’Neal often complained about Kobe Bryant’s shortcomings to the media. In return, Bryant refused to sign with the Lakers again until they traded Shaquille O’Neal to another team.

When you suddenly get a lot of attention, what do you think? You might feel like you’re better than your peers.

Instead of being self-serving and seeking compliments, why not share them with others? They’ll do the same for you. This will benefit your career no matter what it is.

It’s important to thank the people who help you, like your accountants and designers. That will make them work better with you and for you in the future.

Big Idea #6: If you do your best and things don’t work out, find out why so that you can improve for next time.

It’s natural to feel frustrated when you’re not rewarded for your great ideas. After all, our egos tell us that we deserve rewards, but the world doesn’t always work in accordance with our plans.

We don’t always get what we want, even though we work hard and try our best. It can be frustrating to not get promoted or close a deal that you’ve worked so hard on. How do you react?

It’s important to recognize that we can’t control everything. Sometimes things don’t work out, but it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. You should be thankful for the experience and move on from there.

On the one hand, we should remember that luck is not the same as success. Even though we may have been lucky to get a break, it doesn’t mean that our hard work wasn’t what led us to where we are now.

Take the example of the New England Patriots football team. They drafted Tom Brady in the sixth round and he became one of their greatest quarterbacks, leading them to four Super Bowl titles.

The New England Patriots were impressed with Tom Brady’s performance, so they worked to improve their scouting program. They wanted to identify more players like him in the future.

If something doesn’t go the way you want it to, take some time to understand why. Then try again and do better next time.

Ego Is The Enemy Book Summary, by Ryan Holiday

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