Ryan Holiday is someone I've followed for quite some time. His bio is everywhere and it's linked here. I encourage you to check out his stuff. Why? Because he is one of the clearest thinkers writing today. What does that mean? It means that if most people did what he's done over the past 10 years they would be complete ego-maniacs - and he's not. He has been strategic and clear headed while designing his life and career and it's paid off handsomely.
His latest book, Ego is the Enemy, is by far his best work. I have no reason to hype this book. I don't know the man, I don't get any sort of significant affiliate revenue from linking to the book. I just really, really like this book and I think you will too.
The book is divided into 3 sections: Aspire, Success, and Failure. He offers great examples from history and even his own life in explaining how in each phase of our life (aspiring, succeeding, and failing) ego can hold us back from getting what we truly want. He makes it very clear that he's not talking about ego in the Freudian sense. He's talking about what you and I see every single day (sometimes in our own behavior) - people who think they are more important than they really are, smarter, better looking, etc.
Just go out and buy the book. It's a good one. Below I've listed some of my favorite excerpts from each section.
"Our cultural values almost try to make us dependent on validation, entitled, and ruled by our emotions. For a generation, parents and teachers have focused on building up everyone's self esteem. From there, the themes of our gurus and public figures have been almost exclusively aimed at inspiring, encouraging, and assuring us that we can do whatever we set our minds to. In reality, this makes us weak. Yes, you, with all your talent and promise as a boy wonder or a girl-who's-going-places."
"Pride and ego say:
- I am an entrepreneur because I struck out on my own.
- I am going to win because I am currently in the lead.
- I am a writer because I published something.
- I am rich because I made some money.
- I am special because I was chosen.
- I am important because I think I should be.
At one time or another, we all indulge this sort of gratifying label making. Yet every culture seems to produce words of caution against it. Don't count your chickens before they hatch. Don't cook the sauce before catching the fish. the way to cook a rabbit is first to catch a rabbit. Game slaughtered by words cannot be skinned. Punching above your weight is how you get injured. Pride goeth before the fall.
Let's call that attitude what it is: fraud. If you're doing the work and putting in the time, you won't need to cheat, you won't need to over compensate. "
"At the end, this isn't about deferring pride because you don't deserve it yet. It isn't 'Don't boast about what hasn't happened yet.' It is more directly 'Don't boast.' There's nothing in it for you."
"Each of us faces a threat as we pursue our craft. Like sirens on the rocks, ego sings a soothing, validating song - which can lead to a wreck. The second we let the ego tell us that we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt. That's why Frank Shamrock said,'Always stay a student.' As in, it never ends.
The solution is as straightforward as it is initially uncomfortable: Pick up a book on a topic you know next to nothing about. Put yourself in rooms where you're the least knowledgeable person. That uncomfortable feeling, that defensiveness that you feel when your most deeply held assumptions are challenged - what about subjecting yourself to it deliberately? Change your mind. Change your surroundings.
An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled, and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process. "
"Instead of pretending that we are living some great story, we must remain focused on the execution - and on the executing with excellence. We must shun the false crown and continue working on what got us here.
Because that's the only thing that will keep us here."
"Feel unprotected against the elements or forces or surroundings. Remind yourself how pointless it is to rage and fight and try to one-up those around you. Go and put yourself in touch with the infinite, and end our conscious separation from the world. Reconcile yourself a bit better with the realities of life. Realize how much came before you, and how only wisps of it remain.
Let the feeling carry you as long as you can. Then when you start to feel better or bigger than, go and do it again."
"...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?"
"The world is, after all, indifferent to what we humans 'want.' If we persist in wanting, in needing, we are simply setting ourselves up for resentment or worse. Doing the work is enough."
"Our expectations and exaggerations and lack of restraint made such moments inevitable, ensuring that it would be painful. Now it's here, what will you make of it? You can change, or you can deny.
Vince Lombardi said this once: 'A team, like men, must be brought to its knees before it can rise again.' So yes, hitting bottom is as brutal as it sounds.
But the feeling after - it is one of the most powerful perspectives in the world. President Obama described it as he neared the end of his tumultuous, trying terms. 'I've been in the barrel tumbling down Niagara Falls and I emerged, and I lived, and that's such a liberating feeling.'"
There is a lot more great stuff in the book and I genuinely hope you get it. After you buy it - read it, and then read it again.