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About Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is an American marketer and author. Ryan dropped out of college at the age of 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, the author of The 48 Laws of Power. Subsequently, Ryan became the marketing director for American apparel and found his own creative agency called Brass Check. Brass Check has been an advisor to companies, like Google, and authors, like Neil Strauss, Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss. In addition to this, Ryan is a media columnist and editor-at-large for the New York Observer. Ryan is the author of 10 books. Stillness is the Key has now sold over two million copies.
Ego is the Enemy builds upon ancient theories of Stoic philosophy. In doing so, it argues our most profound problems do not stem from our external environment but from our attitude towards life. Ryan Holiday takes this point further by arguing that challenging our ego is more important now than it has ever been. Social media and our culture fan the flames of our egos, reaffirming the idea that if we have a dream, our success is guaranteed. Therefore, Holiday argues our ego ultimately prevents us from being the best we can be: rational and free from bias. Ryan Holiday outlines the best approaches to challenging our ego to better ourselves, coupled with examples that provide a clear context.
StoryShot #1: Ego Is Recognition Without Work
Ryan Holiday describes the ego as a desire to receive recognition without doing the work required for this recognition. Recognition is generally related to success. However, some people attempt to obtain this recognition before they have achieved success.
Ryan Holiday offers an example of an egoist. Ulysses S. Grant is a former US president. Before his presidency, he was a well-known general who had obtained significant success. However, Grant had no experience in the political sphere. Therefore, he generalized his army success to the political sphere. This encouraged a desire to win the highest political office. This generalization of success shows that Grant was an egoist. Comparatively, William Sherman was successful but not an egoist. His ambition had a solid foundation of genuine achievements. Sherman was also a general serving in the military and fought alongside Grant. Sherman was also successful, but he was not an egoist. Hence, as the end of Abraham Lincoln’s second term drew near, Grant was determined to push himself into politics. Comparatively, Sherman decided to keep working hard in the field he was successful in. This was military leadership.
StoryShot #2: There’s Always More to Learn
Our ego is fed by the belief that we know everything. The reality is that there’s always more to learn. Therefore, you can prevent your ego from taking over by reminding yourself of this fact. There’s always somebody better than you. Ryan Holiday offers the example of Kirk Hammett. Hammett was a talented guitarist in the 80s, and in 1980 he was asked by Metallica to join their band. This was a fantastic opportunity, as he could have become a member of one of the most famous rock bands of all time. However, Hammett knew he had more to learn. He rejected their offer and became a student of a guitar genius, Joe Satriani. This period of growth helped Hammett become a significantly better musician. Three years later, he took up Metallica’s offer and obtained the recognition he deserved for his hard work. He now consistently places among the best guitarists of all time.
Teaching other people is another way of keeping your ego in check. For example, martial-arts expert, Frank Shamrock, believes that training beginners is crucial for maintaining a humble mindset. Training beginners helps you appreciate the full spectrum of skill levels and reminds you of your hard work to reach your current skill level.
StoryShot #3: Aspiration Without Action Is Nothing
Ryan Holiday recommends you stop talking and start doing. You need to stop telling people that you are going to do something good. This expression of your aspiration is purely used to obtain admiration and feed your ego. Those who are successful throughout history are those who delay gratification. These individuals receive gratification when they have done something right.
Before starting a task, you should always ask yourself: Am I doing this to be somebody or do something? If you are only doing something to be somebody, then you are merely feeding your ego. You are behaving in a way that will provide you with affirmation. The alternative is to want to do something for the action itself. More often than not, this type of action will be making a difference in the world.
We rate this book 4.2/5.
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Muhammad Rahim Rahim Bhurgri
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Thanks for your comment, Muhammad!