Ego Is the Enemy – by Ryan Holiday

Ego = an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.
The need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility.
That’s the definition this book will use.

Ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have.
Ego is the enemy of mastering a craft.
Ego is the enemy of real creative insight.
Ego is the enemy of working well with others.
Ego is the enemy of building loyalty and support.
Ego is the enemy of longevity.
Ego is the enemy of repeating and retaining your success.

Building up our self-esteem, inspiring, encouraging, and assuring us that we can do whatever we set our minds to. In reality, this makes us weak.

The ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible.

Practice seeing yourself with a little distance. Get out of your own head. Detachment is a natural ego antidote.

Though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek.

Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative.

What a lot of us do when we’re scared or overwhelmed by a project: everything but focus on it.

A man’s best treasure is a thrifty tongue. Talk depletes us. Talking and doing fight for the same resources.

The greatest work and art comes from wrestling with the void, facing it instead of scrambling to make it go away.

Ego crosses out what matters and replaces it with what doesn’t.

It is not “Who do I want to be in life?” but “What is it that I want to accomplish in life?”

The power of being a student is not just that it is an extended period of instruction, it also places the ego and ambition in someone else’s hands. There is a sort of ego ceiling imposed – one knows that he is not better than the “master” he apprentices under.

Updating your appraisal of your talents in a downward direction is one of the most difficult things to do in life – but it is almost always a component of mastery.

You can’t learn if you think you already know.

The “bundle of energy” that our teachers and gurus have assured us is our most important asset. It is that burning, unquenchable desire to start or to achieve some vague, ambitious, and distant goal. This seemingly innocuous motivation is so far from the right track it hurts. They had passion and lacked something else.

John Wooden saw those extra emotions as a burden. Instead, his philosophy was about being in control and doing your job and never being “passion’s slave.”

No one would describe them as apathetic. They wouldn’t have said they were frenetic or zealous either.

Opportunities are not usually deep, virgin pools that require courage and boldness to dive into, but instead are obscured, dusted over, blocked by various forms of resistance. What is really called for in these circumstances is clarity, deliberateness, and methodological determination. But too often, we proceed like this: A flash of inspiration: I want to do the best and biggest ______ ever. Be the youngest ______. The only one to ______. The “firstest with the mostest.”

Breathlessness and impetuousness and franticness are poor substitutes for discipline, for mastery, for strength and purpose and perseverance.

Those who can tell you in great detail who they intend to become and when they intend to achieve it They can tell you all the things they’re going to do, or have even begun, but they cannot show you their progress. Because there rarely is any.

What we require in our ascent is purpose and realism.

Purpose is about pursuing something outside yourself as opposed to pleasuring yourself.

It’d be far better if you were intimidated by what lies ahead – humbled by its magnitude and determined to see it through regardless.

He thrived on what was considered grunt work, asked for it and strove to become the best at precisely what others thought they were too good for.

Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room – until you change that with results.

Be lesser, do more.

Those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who never lose self-control, but are always calm, self-possessed, patient, and polite.

A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions.

Plato spoke of the type of people who are guilty of feasting on their own thoughts. They assume that what they desire is available and proceed to arrange the rest, taking pleasure in thinking through everything they’ll do when they have what they want, thereby making their lazy souls even lazier.

General George C. Marshall refused to keep a diary during World War II despite the requests of historians and friends. He worried that it would turn his quiet, reflective time into a sort of performance and self-deception. That he might second-guess difficult decisions out of concern for his reputation and future readers and warp his thinking based on how they would look.

As long as you are looking down, on things and people; you cannot see something that is above you.

Whom the gods wish to destroy, they first call promising.

Vain men never hear anything but praise.

What am I missing right now that a more humble person might see?

That on which you so pride yourself will be your ruin.

Is it ten thousand hours to mastery? It doesn’t matter. There is no end.

Basketball player Bill Bradley would remind himself, “When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win.”

As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.

The way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things.

Keep your identity small.

There is a real danger in any label that comes along with a career: are we suddenly a “filmmaker,” “writer,” “investor,” “entrepreneur,” or “executive” because we’ve accomplished one thing?

We might think that success in the future is just the natural next part of the story – when really it’s rooted in work, creativity, persistence, and luck.

Artists who think it was “inspiration” or “pain” that fueled their art and create an image around that – instead of hard work and sincere hustle – will eventually find themselves at the bottom of a bottle or on the wrong end of a needle.

All of us regularly say yes unthinkingly, or out of vague attraction, or out of greed or vanity. Because we can’t say no – because we might miss out on something if we did. We think “yes” will let us accomplish more, when in reality it prevents exactly what we seek. All of us waste precious life doing things we don’t like, to prove ourselves to people we don’t respect, and to get things we don’t want.

The Greek word euthymia is one we should think of often: it is the sense of our own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted by all the others that intersect it.

Think about what’s truly important to you and then take steps to forsake the rest.

Ego says that sure, even though you’re just starting to get the hang of one thing, why not jump right in the middle of another?

The sense of certainty that got you here can become a liability if you’re not careful.

You must fight to be the person philosophy tried to make you.

If you want to live happy, live hidden.

(About stock market:) We are at a wonderful ball. We know at some moment the black horsemen will come wreaking vengeance. Those who leave early are saved, but the ball is so splendid no one wants to leave while there is still time. So everybody keeps asking – what time is it? But none of the clocks have hands.

The narcissistically inclined live in an unwalled city. A fragile sense of self is constantly under threat.

There are two types of time in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second. Every moment of failure, every moment or situation that we did not deliberately choose or control, presents this choice: Alive time. Dead time. Which will it be?

Think of what you have been putting off. Issues you declined to deal with. Systemic problems that felt too overwhelming to address. Dead time is revived when we use it as an opportunity to do what we’ve long needed to do.

What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass should not bother him.

Denial is your ego refusing to believe that what you don’t like could be true.

Ego asks: Why is this happening to me? How do I save this and prove to everyone I’m as great as they think? It’s the animal fear of even the slightest sign of weakness.

Any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other people’s experience.