Ego is the Enemy advises individuals to quit babbling, forget their tales, restrain their passions, learn from everything they do, accept failure, and never stop working. He tells stories about elite sports, politicians, and corporate leaders who learned the hard way about the consequences of ego, as well as stories about quiet workers who made huge differences while remaining anonymous. Holiday’s conversational tone feels like you’re getting counsel from a trusted friend. Though several posts address similar issues, his chapters are short and easy to read.
What Is Ego?
Anyone who is ambitious has an ego. People who harness their skills to achieve their objectives have ego. Artists, sportsmen, scientists, and entrepreneurs attain their goals by focusing on the urge to create and explore. However, all too often, ego drives these efforts. Ego is required for achievement. However, “an unhealthy belief” in your own importance has the opposite effect and prevents your progress.
Ego promotes lazy, self-congratulatory fantasy. Ego, defined as “self-centered ambition,” undermines connection with people and involvement, both of which allow success to grow. To appropriately estimate your strengths, embrace a mix of confidence and humility. Recognize that while ego provides the pleasure of self-satisfaction, it is self-absorbed and can cause you to miss out on opportunities.
Aspiring to Greatness
Greatness is frequently a silent act. The late US Air Force fighter pilot and strategist John Boyd helped change modern combat across the US armed services, although most people are unaware of his existence. To underscore the distinction between working for recognition and striving to accomplish something, he asked the soldiers he commanded whether they wanted “to be or to do.” It’s lot easier to be someone than it is to get things done.
Though popular wisdom advises people to “discover their passion,” this can be bad advice. Passion fuels enthusiasm at the expense of careful consideration. The intensity and thrill of passion can conceal flaws that will eventually surface. Seek purpose with reasoning and goals rather than impatient enthusiasm.
Practice restraint. Your thoughts are clouded by rage, anger, and pride. You are not remarkable because you attended a good school, worked hard, or come from a wealthy or influential family. You may despise it when your boss is unpleasant or your coworkers are difficult, but reacting and arguing that you deserve more will get you nowhere. Such actions are motivated by ego. Being constrained allows you to concentrate on the task at hand and appreciate the lessons that arise along the route.
“The Canvas Strategy”
The canvas method is based on the idea of being “a canvas for other people to paint on.” Shift your focus away from the short-term fulfilment of resentment and toward the long-term richness of self-development. When first beginning out in the realm of work, keep the following concepts in mind to follow the canvas strategy:
- You will most likely need to change and cultivate a more positive mindset.
- One “aren’t as good” or as important as you believe.
- You don’t know everything, and you need to learn more than what your education provided.
Your achievement will frequently combine with the prosperity of others. Work to make the lives of others simpler. While an early sense of subservience may perplex your ego, starting at the bottom allows you to learn how something truly works. Overcome your ego by brainstorming ideas to present to your manager. Introduce yourself to potential collaborators. Perform the minor jobs that others avoid. When you “clear the route” for others, you contribute to choose the path they will travel.
Problems with Narratives
Rather of talking a lot, be someone who does things. Instead of encouraging productivity, social media encourages conversation. Posting status updates on Facebook and Twitter teaches you to prioritise word above action. Filling in text fields encourages the false image of confidence, ability, and success. Don’t believe your own advertising. That’s your ego blowing out.
Emily Gould, a Gawker blogger, described the difficulties she had in finishing her novel. She had a “six-figure book deal,” but her writing suffered because she was always posting on Tumblr, Twitter, or scrolling through websites. These were distractions from the real work she needed to accomplish, but she convinced herself that it was work since she was developing her personal brand. People lose sight of the distinction between actual successes and fictional advertisements of themselves in their continuous goal of developing, curating, or improving a personal brand.
All of your posting and talking depletes your energy for your actual work. Some people prefer to grumble their thoughts as they work through an issue, but studies show that doing so hinders the process of discovery. Similarly, goal visualisation is useful at the start of a project, but it gives the false appearance of progress after a while. When it comes to difficult projects, talking does not help.
Success stories make success appear unavoidable. Looking back on your own story is risky because you may reject all of the bits that do not suit the narrative you wish to create. Such a story can provide false clarity and distract you from remembering the labour that allowed you to achieve your goals. Success stories deceive by implying that they are conclusive, that the story concludes with success. In real life, however, the story continues. Everyone wants to defeat you after you accomplish. You must work harder than ever to sustain the achievements you have worked so hard to acquire.
Pride is harmful. It prevents learning. Instead, have “a student mind-set” to keep your ego in check by realising that you always have more to learn. Success does not make you a master. Frank Shamrock, a mixed martial arts world champion, believes that everyone requires “a plus, a minus, and an equal.” Learn from someone who is more skilled than you, someone who serves as a teacher. Gain from teaching someone who understands less than you, because being a professional necessitates understanding your task well enough to convey it to others. Working with someone at your level helps you develop elegance and dexterity.
Maintaining a student mindset is easy to do during the start of your profession. The urge to exaggerate your expertise comes with success. “As our island of knowledge develops, so does the shore of our ignorance,” stated John Wheeler, a scientist who worked on the atomic bomb. The more you learn, the more you realise how much more you need to learn.
Jazz great Wynton Marsalis once advised a young musician to remain humble, stating that humility is visible in individuals who do not feel they know everything. Discover the methods that allow you to learn most effectively as you study. Repeat those steps to assure your ongoing education.
According to the “theory of disruption,” every industry will ultimately face a shift that no one could have imagined. When this happens, established company models, which are already too comfortable with their known approach, will be unable to respond effectively since they have ceased learning and evolving. Newcomers are more agile; because they are still learning, they identify a chance to address a market need and seize it. They research their competition to determine which improvements will help them expand.
Want to read about focus and deep work; read our another summary book here.
“Standard of Performance”
As the general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, Bill Walsh developed a Standard of Performance. Over the span of three years, he transformed a club that was rated as one of the worst in the league into a Super Bowl champion. People presented the story of this ascent by claiming Walsh had a vision of the team winning the Super Bowl and carried it through. He refused to believe the story. Walsh, on the other hand, highlighted how he concentrated on what team members needed to do, when they needed to do it, and how they should accomplish it.
Walsh fostered a spirit of quality in his players by requiring them to stand on the practise field; coaches to wear tucked-in shirts and ties; and the locker room to be immaculate. Bill Walsh anticipated the team to do well both on and off the field. The squad endured two awful years after winning the Super Bowl because the players got overconfident and self-satisfied. Before they could win again and become repeating winners, the squad had to understand that the Standard of Performance was their path to victory.
Mistakes are unavoidable. Being an entrepreneur or creative person necessitates taking risks, and those risks might not always pay off. The issue isn’t failure. The issue is that we identify with failure. Ego believes that there are only two options: success or failure. That is ego confusion at work. Failure does not define who you are, only what you did. Ego attempts to demonstrate that failure is or will become success.
Dov Charney was the CEO of American Apparel at the time, and his activities cost the company $300 million in addition to the reputational harm caused by various scandals. Charney refused to step down when the board asked him to. He subsequently squandered a fortune on a pointless litigation in order to vindicate himself. He lost and was publicly humiliated when the media released details about his behaviour revealed by the case.
Because of his enormous ego, Steve Jobs was fired from Apple, the company he established. Jobs was enraged and opposed the company’s decision, but he refused to let it define him. He decided to try again after selling all but one share of Apple and backed the animation studio Pixar and steadily recovered his reputation after learning from his management blunders. He eventually returned to Apple and developed an even better company than he could have before learning such difficult life lessons.
Failure, like Jobs, is an opportunity to learn. When your success begins to diminish, don’t cling to your work, project, or goal even more. Recognize that something went wrong; try to determine how your behaviour contributed to the issue; and start changing.
When people initially achieve success, they may exhibit wild behaviour. Success can change uncertainty and unpredictable behaviour into self-assurance and bravery. Recognize that you didn’t know what would lead to success if your accomplishment came from an unexpected guess. Stay sober while people appreciate your greatness.
Consider Germany’s Angela Merkel, one of the world’s most powerful women. Even though Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to scare her by letting his hunting dog to interrupt a conference, she did not take it personally or react negatively, despite her hate of dogs. She remained “strong, clear, and patient” in the face of hardship. “You can’t solve…tasks with charisma,” Merkel famously observed.
Success has the unintended consequence of making people feel larger than life. Their sense of importance is reinforced by stress. Rebukes or failures, on the other hand, injure people’s inflated egos. Tame your ego by contemplating the enormity of the world; “mediate on immensity.” Take in the scenery. Look for something that will allow you to connect. Let go of the ego’s urge for revenge or efforts to reinforce its own worth. Look at how beautiful the world is. The ego is “the sickness of me,” but the world has far more to give than you.
Learn What Matters to You
Everything revolves around the ego. Genuine self-awareness reduces ego by allowing the self to develop and grow. So, instead of focusing on external metrics, ask yourself, “What’s important to you?” Learn what is important to you so that you may be genuine to yourself. Recognize that the world has much more to teach you. Give up your ego’s attachment to success. Instead, commit to a continuous improvement route.