Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Ego is the Enemy: Yorkshire Powerhouse Score 8/10
While the history books are filled with tales of obsessive visionary geniuses who remade the world in their image with sheer, almost irrational force, history is also made by individuals who fought their egos at every turn, who eschewed the spotlight, and who put their higher goals above their desire for recognition.
In Ego Is the Enemy, the author offers a more practical view of ego that is more modern and relatable than the traditional scientific views of ego. Ryan defines ego as,
“an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centred ambition.”
Basically, this book is all about how believing or even rewriting your own story is destructive, whereas looking objectively at strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures offers the real opportunity to improve.
The book is broken down into three main parts where Ryan provides tips and guidance on dealing with ego in the following areas;
Part I – Aspire
This is where we’re just starting out and desiring to find success. We need to make sure we don’t let ego keep us from moving forward.
Part II – Success
This is when we’ve found some level of success and need to be mindful not to allow ego the opportunity to bring us down.
Part III – Failure
This is when we stumble and need to make certain that ego doesn’t prevent us from getting back on the saddle.
There’s a great story on Tom Brady and the New England Patriots that references how Tom was picked in the 6th round as the 199th pick of the 2000 NFL draft. Rather than the team gloating on how they found one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, they viewed it as a bit of a breakdown in their system to have allowed him to be drafted so low where so many other teams could’ve wound up with this stud. That’s a huge key in managing ego, not revelling in successes, but realising we always have room to learn and grow.
The author uses characters from history to make his points clear. One was General Sherman, and his approach to fame. Other men who were successful during this time, demanded power, but it seemed that Sherman was happy to serve, and be content with this truth.
In an unfortunate turn, the book reeks of the author’s political convictions, particularly his deep admiration for the Clintons. It might be that a philosopher can’t be completely apolitical … who the author loves or hates in politics is not relevant to the message.
Who will gain the most from reading this book?
Any business leader who is working to define a style or approach, particularly those nervous of the LinkedIn driven cult of celebrity.
Could a Yorkshire perspective improve this book?
No, not really, it will resonate as showing the world a classic Yorkshire approach, albeit described by an American. After all, a spade is a spade!
Have you any questions?
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When starting a business, be obsessed with perfection and control. Invest and do it right from the start and your business will reflect your approach.