Ego Is The Enemy: A Book Review
If you scan the books available in the self-help and business aisles you will find a countless number of offerings written to prop up your identity and pump up your emotions. These books will be chocked full of inspirational quotes and motivational tales written with the main purpose of driving the reader into a self-empowered, hyper-positive frenzy. Then there is Ego Is The Enemy authored by Ryan Holiday.
Ego Is The Enemy was not written with the intent of swelling your heart and head with affirmations or self-help hyperbole, but it just may be one of the most important books stacked amongst the litany of life’s cheerleading manuals. Amidst all the gurus and polished personalities, aiming to coax and cajole you into a better life through the incessant preaching of positivity, Ryan Holiday delivers the ultimate head check through a dose of cautionary tales with real life figures from history. Do not get me wrong, Holiday wants you to succeed. It could be argued his approach even lends to a more vested interest in your well-being because the message he delivers is so critical to anyone working to better their life or accomplish a goal.
Through Ego Is The Enemy, Holiday set out to forewarn the masses, that no matter where you are in life, and no matter what you have done or what you are about to do, ego is there riding shotgun with you. If left unchecked, ego can and will destroy you and undermine the entirety of your efforts. No blood pumping mottos or affirmations to be found here, but some of the most important lessons you will ever learn. Lessons to help you focus on what is important and also realize what is truly at stake in your life's endeavors.
Aspire, Success, and Failure
Holiday takes on his mission, of cautioning the waking world of the dangers and manner in which ego destroys, by breaking his book into the three sections of Aspire, Success, and Failure. He posits that these three statuses are fluid and flow on a continuum, with all of us coming in and out of each of them at various points in our lives. No matter which part we currently find ourselves in, or whichever one we may be heading to, ego is there and will snuff out our dreams and desires if unattended to.
Holiday brilliantly underscores his dire warnings through factual tales from actual historical figures through various points of history. Using prominent figures from war, sports, and business he regales the reader with shining examples of those who triumphed over mountainous odds by possessing the ability to remain self-aware, centered, and stoic, regardless of any internal or external chaos swirling around them. As importantly, if not more, the flip side of the coin is illustrated through the tales of the hard fallen, who succumbed to the cunning and merciless whims of the ego. Through these tales, the ego is fully on display as an ever-present and non-discriminatory force that can derail a project or devolve a person’s entire existence.
The Work: Focus On The Work
In Ego Is The Enemy, Holiday assures us we can prevail over ego, but repeatedly and rightfully cautions that no matter what we do or where we are in life, ego is there too. He urges us to focus on the work itself, not the results. He implores us not to succumb to praise or give pause to detractors because either of those forms of feedback invigorates the ego, which is ready to pounce the moment you become uncentered. The work is what will protect us, along with understanding our why, why we are undertaking any project or mission in life. It is imperative we stay true to the core reasoning of our why. Remain steadfast in selflessness. Deflect both accolades and critiques, because both ultimately serve the same master, the unrelenting ego. Make it only about the work.
Ego Is The Enemy: Required Reading For Life
I personally have always loved books that blindly inspired me to attack life with zest and zeal. I think certain trying moments within the bigger picture of life can require the need of trumped up enthusiasm, positive affirmations, and goal orientation. Ego Is The Enemy is not that kind of book but delivers an even more critical and more applicable message for any situation or stage of our adult lives. It should be required reading for everyone the moment they have wrapped their formal schooling years and are ready to embark upon their calling, whatever that may be. It should also be read yet again, upon any sort of career or life stage change, as a stark reminder of the one constant foe that is within a singular breath of being able to rain down hell on all your dreams.
It actually scared me a little bit in how much I related to and resembled some of the cautionary illustrations Holiday uses to showcase ego in all its dysfunctional glory. This book was a powerful retooling of my headspace and the lessons were immediately applicable to my current professional and personal ventures. Ego Is The Enemy may be shelved and stocked in the self-help or business section of a bookstore, but it is a wildly unique and cautionary read that is short on motivational mottos. Thankfully for us, Holiday understands it is what we all truly need in order to succeed and stave off life’s relentless nemesis, the ego.
What stage of life do you currently find yourself in? Aspire, Success, or Failure? Leave a comment and let us know if and how ego has arisen amidst your efforts.
Ryan Holiday books available through Barnes & Noble.
Ego Is The Enemy available through Amazon.
Ryan Holiday on Twitter.
Ryan Holiday on Facebook.
Still Feel 21 has no relationship with Ryan Holiday, the publisher, or online outlets for Ego Is The Enemy. Links were provided only as a resource.