Review: “Ego Is The Enemy”

Book Review
Book: Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Reviewer: Bobby Powers

My Thoughts: 9 of 10
I love books that teach tangible skills, but books that make you contemplate your moral fiber and strive to improve as a person are even better. Ryan Holiday’s new book Ego Is The Enemy is absolutely a book that made me want to improve my character. Incorporating ideas from ancient and modern philosophers, war generals, politicians, and businessmen, Ego Is The Enemy challenges readers to not let pride stand in the way of attaining or repeating success.

Takeaways from the Book

The Perils of Ego

  • “Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you: your ego.”
  • “If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.” -Marina Abramovic
  • “We can seek to rationalize the worst behavior by pointing to outliers. But no one is truly successful because they are delusional, self-absorbed, or disconnected.”
  • “Ego needs honors in order to be validated. Confidence, on the other hand, is able to wait and focus on the task at hand regardless of external recognition.”

Ego Shadow

Don’t Believe Your Own Press

  • With success comes the temptation to tell oneself a story, to round off the edges, to cut out your lucky breaks and add a certain mythology to it all…It’s a type of storytelling in which eventually your talent becomes your identity and your accomplishments become your worth. But a story like this is never honest or helpful.”
  • “Crafting stories out of past events is a very human impulse. It’s also dangerous and untrue. Writing our own narrative leads to arrogance.”
  • “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool.” -Richard Feynman
  • “Instead of pretending that we are living some great story, we must remain focused on the execution—and on executing with excellence. We must shun the false crown and continue working on what got us here.”


  • “When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real. What replaces ego is humility, yes—but rock-hard humility and confidence. Whereas ego is artificial, this type of confidence can hold weight. Ego is stolen. Confidence is earned.
  • “One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible.”
  • “What is rare is not raw talent, skill, or even confidence, but humility, diligence, and self-awareness.”
  • “We don’t like thinking that someone is better than us. Or that we have a lot left to learn…For this reason, updating your appraisal of your talents in a downward direction is one of the most difficult things in life, but it is almost always a component of mastery. The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better. Studious self-assessment is the antidote.”

Don't Stop Learning

Lifelong Learning

  • “It tends to surprise people how humble aspiring greats seem to have been…The reality is that, thought they were confident, the act of being an eternal student kept these men and women humble.”
  • “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows.” -Epictetus
  • “An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled, and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process.”
  • “I never look back, except to find out about mistakes…I only see danger in thinking back about things you are proud of.” -Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann
  • “This characteristic (focusing on how to improve even in success) is characteristic of how great people think. It’s not that they find failure in every success. They just hold themselves to a standard that exceeds what society might consider to be objective success. Because of that, they don’t much care what other people think; they care whether they meet their own standards. And those standards are much, much higher than everyone else’s.”

Hard Work

  • “The way to do really big things seems to be to start with deceptively small things.” -Paul Graham
  • “To become what we ultimately hope to become often takes long periods of obscurity, of sitting and wrestling with some topic or paradox.”
  • “Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.”

Other Thoughts

  • “Talk depletes us. Talking and doing fight for the same resources. Research shows that while goal visualization is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress.”
  • “Play for the name on the front of the jersey and they’ll remember the name on the back.” -Credited to several people, including Tony Adams

Think you’d like this book? Purchase it from Amazon:

Other books you may enjoy:
Thanks for the Feedback by Douglas Stone and Sheila Heen
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Other notable books by the author:
The Obstacle Is the Way
Trust Me, I’m Lying
Growth Hacker Marketing

One thought on “Review: “Ego Is The Enemy”

  1. Pingback: soD kaP – Catatan St.Nagari

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s