The following are my thoughts Ego is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday.
“The first product of self-knowledge is humility.” – Flannery O’Connor
Ryan Holiday is a huge fan of stoic philosophy. Well, what I should say, is that Ryan Holiday has, for our educational and life purposes, relayed the great knowledge of ancient stoic philosophers into books that relate hugely to the business world, and professional athletes too – Pete Carroll has mentioned stoicism before. Some of it can certainly be used for personal use too, as being a stoic goes far beyond that of just a business strategy, since it is a philosophy after all. To quote Tim Ferriss,
“philosophy is like an operating system for life.”
Using personal stories (very few, which he explains in the intro) and many anecdotal stories from history, Ryan serves us several lessons on understanding the human ego, and it’s negative effects. I have always admired a person who is not only successful, but is also very humble. I actually read this book as well as a few others (in a randomized rotation) almost every day as a reminder to be more humble, all of which relate to stoic philosophy. They include Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, Seneca On The Shortness Of Life, A Man Alone with Himself by Friedrich Neiztche (no proof that I know of that he was stoic per sé but a philosopher he was, undoubtedly) and Ryan Holiday’s two books The Obstacle is The Way and Ego is The Enemy. As of recently, he also released The Daily Stoic with Stephen Hanselman as a daily read that I bought right at the beginning of 2017 which is filled with awesome stoic knowledge covering all the bases and facets of life.
But I’m not here to talk about stoicism. I’m here to talk about the book. Within the pages are Three Parts, broken down. They are Aspire, Success, and Failure. Each part breaks down the common blockades created by The Ego that get in our way so often. One thing I often struggle with is getting out of my own head. The Ego will try every attempt possible to stop you from accepting the reality of certain situations, thwarting the progress of so many people to pursue their dreams. There are examples of this all around us, from the loud cynic who thinks everything is a scam, to the quiet timid person too scared to break the rules and follows the path of least resistant to their inevitable unhappiness. Ryan will make you question a lot of the things we often want in life simply because society says so. He’ll also motivate you to get off ass and get to WORK, because if there is one thing the stoics understood, it is that life is about servitude and duty, it wont be easy, but to also teach the mind to be in agreement with these realities.
In one small phrase, a Stoic is one who is in agreement with nature.
Obviously, we all let our ego get the best of us at many times in our life. We are all guilty, and no one is perfect. This is a good starter book for people wanting to understand stoic philosophy a little better without trying to trudge through the old English writings of Seneca and Marcus Aurelius. I would still recommend you get those books too if you want a deeper dive into stoicism. Ryan adds a little bonus in this one about what books he’s read (also where he pulled the stories from) that you can also read to further your level of enlightenment.
On a personal note, (and this will be my last bit about Stoicism, promise) I believe strongly that undertaking the right philosophy is crucial to life and business success and happiness. It keeps you sharp, strong, and prepared mentally, and those are the people who survive the winters of life. As the famous historian Will Durant once said about nations who have came and gone, “Nations are born Stoic, and they die Epicurean.” (Epicurean is another philosophy which is pretty interesting and fairly harmless if pursued with modesty, but that’s the downside, without modest epicureanism, you will fall into modern day YOLO mentality, and this is unsustainable for 99.9% of people)
Delve into the minds of history’s greatest figures, and bring their teachings to life if you:
- Are an entrepreneur
- Want to learn more about philosophies/ers with an easy read
- Have a friend/coworker/boss who might have an ego problem (or maybe it’s just you)
- Are a CEO, or any type of manager of people
- Are a student
- Are some type of Artist, and need a kick in the butt for your next creative breakthrough
- Are able to read this…
Thank you for reading. And remember, we are all forever the students of life.