I finally just finished reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. He's one of my favorite writers, but I got way behind on his books (he now has 2 more new ones that I can't wait to read!).
I really enjoyed this book, and it was a refreshing reminder of all the ways our ego can cause us to screw up, even (or maybe especially) while we're "succeeding."
It was a short, pleasant read, and each chapter had a main, easily digestible lesson that was illustrated with stories of historical figures.
I'm a big fan of the way Ryan can distill so much information (books, quotes, history, movies, etc.) into concrete, actionable lessons. I had interviewed Ryan for Authors@Google a while ago for his previous book The Obstacle is the Way, which I also really enjoyed.
My biggest takeaways were around humility, "alive time vs. dead time," and maintaining focus on one's work (instead of others' opinions or external factors). My full notes on the book are below.
3 stages moving between throughout life
Ego enemy in each
Humble in aspirations
Gracious in success
Resilient in failure
Humility and true confidence
Part 1 aspire
Humility and reality is the cure
To whatever you aspire, ego is the enemy
Belief in self only based on actual achievement
True modesty from moderation and continuous wondering if doing ok
Ability to evaluate one’s own ability
Though we think big, we must act and live small
Talk talk talk
Talking easier than doing
To be or to do
Trying to become someone or chase a title vs doing the right work regardless of ego or title even if unpopular
Become a student
Taking lessons and apprenticeship places ego in others hands and shows you that you have much left to learn
Plus minus equal system
Have someone better than you to learn from
Have someone worse than you to teach
Have an equal to challenge self against
Don’t be passionate
Clarity, deliberateness, reason
Passion is about something but purpose for something
Follow the canvas strategy
Find canvases for other people to paint on
Be an anteambulo. Clear path for others above you to succeed.
When giving feedback to superior, do it privately and self-effacingly
Say little, do much
Be lesser, do more
Come up with ideas to hand over to boss
Find people, thinkers, up and comers to introduce to each other
Find what nobody else wants to do and do it
Find inefficiency and waste and redundancy. Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas.
Produce more than everyone else and give your ideas away
Sometimes not to do the right thing and control your emotion to fight back for the bigger goal
Get out of your own head
No one to perform for
Just face reality and do the work
The danger of early pride
Causes you to miss what’s above or in front of you
work, work, work
Not just idea or talk
Part 2: success
Always stay a student
Learn from everyone and everything
Pick up a book on a topic you know nothing about
Don’t tell yourself a story
Stop the stories and focus on the task at hand and standards of excellence
Remain focused on executing with excellence
What’s important to you
Shouldn’t say yes to offers just of our ego
Have sense of own path and stay on it. Be as good as you can be at yourself. Ignore others.
Entitlement, control, and paranoia
Remind yourself of the limits of your power and reach
Beware the disease of me
Meditate on the immensity
Consider your smallness amongst the cosmos and history of universe
Maintain your sobriety
Part 3 failure
Alive time or dead time
Are you growing or just wasting time
Can use every opportunity of downtime to grow
The effort is enough
The point is not others’ perception or reception of your work
Fight club moments
Hitting rock bottom teaches important lessons
Hard things are broken by hard things
Draw the line
Don’t do unethical things even if no one will know
Have your own standard
Maintain your own scorecard
Always keep pushing for being better
Even if others think you’re good, you have your own evaluation of self against own metrics
Attempting to destroy something out of hate sometimes will magnify and preserve it
Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because done it once doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day we must sweep.
Improving yourself personally will yield bigger professional success
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