“Instead of pretending that we are living some great story, we must remain focused on the execution -and on executing with excellence. We must shun the false crown and continue working on what got us here.”- Ryan Holiday
Few months back I read the book “Ego is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday and I’ve been a huge fan of this book since then. This book belongs on the bedside of everyone who aspires to be a leader as there’s plenty of value that one can gain from this book and I thought I’d share some of those valuable advices in this article.
Whenever we hear the word enemy, we probably think of somebody else from the outside but in our quest to reach our goals, we are our only worst enemy. Ryan says “Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you: your ego.” It is true that all of us, with no exception, have a certain level of ego and pride but to succeed in life we need some serious ego eradicating work to be done.
Ego in this context refers to unhealthy belief in our own abilities, our arrogance and self centered ambition. Ego makes us believe that we are a true hero, that we know a lot more than we actually know. The ability to accurately assess our skills is extremely valuable, and by allowing ego to inflate it, prevents us from having a realistic assessment of our abilities and leads us to delusion. We really can’t learn anything if we have an “I know it all” attitude. This fantasy of greatness stops us from learning and collaborating with others and hinders our growth as Epictetus rightly said “It is impossible for a man to learn that, which he thinks he already knows.”
We must adopt a forever student mindset because there’s so much left in this world for us to learn. We can do it by striving to learn from everyone and looking for areas to improve on a daily basis. Actually, it is easy to be a student before we become successful and great but the real challenge is to stay in a student mindset even after achieving great success. If you look at the life of worlds smartest business people like Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, despite being highly successful, they spend an incredible amount of time reading books to learn new things. This mindset only comes if we practice humility, accept our setbacks and are open minded to learn.
Our ego has the tendency to blow everything out of proportion, both good and bad. Sometimes, when we get good results, we overestimate our abilities and get trapped into thinking that we know a lot better than we actually are. Other times, when the results are bad, our ego tells us that it’s not our fault and blame anything and anyone but for us. Instead when we meet failure, we must respond with humility, strength and responsibility instead of pitying oneself and complaining about others.
“In life, there will be times when we do everything right, perhaps even perfectly. Yet the results will somehow be negative: failure, disrespect, jealousy, or even a resounding yawn from the world.” – Ryan Holiday
We have minimal control over the rewards for our work and effort so we shouldn’t attach our ego to people’s validation, recognition and rewards. We can’t let trivial items like these motivate us. We can control only our actions, and that’s exactly where we must find our satisfaction and peace of mind. When we meet our own standards and know that we’ve tried our best that is what must fill us with pride and self – respect.
At the end of the day, if you are experiencing success, congratulate yourself, turn right back around, get back to work, and continue learning and hustling.But if you are experiencing a failure, deal with the situation and move past it by taking responsibility, learn something from it and start working again. Always, give your best and forget the rest.
Lastly, on our journey to success, we will encounter individuals who might deceive, offend and hurt us. This might piss us off and sometimes we might even seek retribution but this is the ego’s doing. It is our ego that makes us wants to hate them and seek payback but this is a distraction. If we are busy hating and getting revenge, we aren’t focusing on our work and aren’t going anywhere near success. Instead, a far better response would be love. Love yourself and those who did wrong to you. I know this is easier said than done.
Ryan says “In failure or adversity, it’s so easy to hate. Hate defers blame. It makes someone else responsible… Does this get us any closer to where we want to be? No. It just keeps us where we are… Meanwhile, love is right. Ego less, open, positive, vulnerable, peaceful, and productive.”
Always, stay humble, stay focused, show love and remember to suppress the ego’s silent evil talk in our heads.