Bestselling author and strategist Ryan Holiday takes on our greatest enemy in our path to a successful life-- Our ego. Drawing on inspiring examples from literature, philosophy and history, he shows how we can overcome this and work on becoming more humble.
What’s it about?
Many of us feel that the outside world, all those external forces are our greatest obstacle in leading a successful life. However, our greatest and most common enemy lies within. Early in our careers, it impedes our learning and cultivation of talent and skill. In times of success, it can blind us to our faults and thereby create problems in the future. In failure, it makes each blow much harder to recover from. At every stage, it has the capacity to destroy us. Our ego, our greatest enemy.
Ego is an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centred ambition.
The book is divided into three parts centred around the possible phases where we’re most vulnerable to ego and can spiral out of control-
Aspire - When we set out to do something. To achieve a goal.
Success - When we’re at the top of the mountain after achieving what we set out to do.
Failure - Falling from grace, or realizing that achieving our goal is harder than we thought.
In each of the three parts, Holiday draws on philosophy and the experiences of various historical and contemporary figures across time, battling their egos. Some of them at the height of their fame, some at rock-bottom.
He then goes on to offer practical meditations on how we can learn to be humble and rely on confidence instead of our ego.
What I liked about the book?
Ryan Holiday is known to be one of our generation’s finest thinkers and it shows in this book. His ideas are definitely worth exploring more in detail.
He doesn’t beat around the bush, he’s direct with what he intends to explain. That makes this book an easy and enjoyable read.
Dividing this book into three parts, centred around the different phases of our lives is a great idea! All of us are currently in one of the three phases. So it’s easy to relate to the writing and implement his ideas.
Holiday’s one of the prime modern supporters of stoicism and it is definitely something we all can explore a bit more to bring purpose and balance in our lives.
The book brings attention to something we didn’t think we would need a book about, but when we think about where the world is heading, with increasing global tensions and a great divide between all the nations, it’s evident how we need leaders who have the capacity to put down their ego and work towards a common goal and that can only start with us individually putting down our ego.
“Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of—that’s the metric to measure yourself against. Your standards are. Winning is not enough. People can get lucky and win. People can be assholes and win. Anyone can win. But not everyone is the best possible version of themselves.”
What did I not like about the book?
Ryan Holiday has done a great job of talking about historical figures, however, I do feel he could have explored many more contemporary figures.
In a time where the world glorifies social media, reality TV and other forms of self-promotion, the book doesn’t go deeper into how we can resist letting such things get to our head and boost our ego.
When we’re working on becoming successful, we read all sorts of books on productivity, money management and entrepreneurship. However, we forget about how our mind can be the greatest obstacle that we face. This book offers a great reminder of how our inner forces matter just as much as the external forces do. Our ego is something that is still our number one enemy in not only our career but our relationships as well and we need to work on overcoming it.
While I haven’t read any of Ryan Holiday’s other books yet to compare this one with, he does an amazing job in not only highlighting how ego can destroy us but also on how we can take control and rely on humility and confidence instead.
Rating - 7/10
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Thank you for reading my review. Hope you enjoy the book!