Book Review: Ego Is the Enemy

While on summer vacation, I finally got my hands on Ryan Holiday’s Ego is the Enemy and could not put this book down. Just as the title says, Ryan points out that each of us battles with Ego, the desire to be great, to be known and to be right. When we lack this awareness, Ego drives our decision making. Ryan used examples in history of those who were successful and unsuccessful in overcoming their egos. Within the book, Ryan chronicles the following and more great examples of leaders in history:

  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Jackie Robinson
  • Angela Merkel
  • Katherine Graham
  • Malcom X

Pointing to those that suffered from egotism, Ryan highlights the lives of the following figures in history and more:

  • Howard Hughes, Sr.
  • Napeoleon
  • Ghengus Kahn
  • Richard Nixon
  • John Delorean
  • Alexander the Great

While using these examples, Ryan breaks down the human life into three different phases: Aspiring, Success and Failure, and argues that we are in each of these phases repeatedly and at various times in our lives. Understanding how our egos affects us during these seasons is critical to success and purpose-driven living.

Here are three personal takeaways from Ego is The Enemy.

1️⃣ Ego drives many of the decisions we make and has a stronger influence in our behavior, actions and desires than most of people will ever understand.

We can actually spend our whole lives striving for success, glory or victory when the goal is unattainable and insatiable. We can never do enough or have enough. Instead, we find dissatisfaction and ongoing struggle for more.

2️⃣ The great examples from history did not care for the spotlight or glory.

They lived simple and lives and put their heads down to complete their mission. They worked, created and led, many through very difficult times of struggle, because that was their mission and task. Unlike the ego-driven, they did not lose interest in their project or mission.

3️⃣ We can live our whole lives driven by our Egos and, therefore, miss out on our purpose.

Believe it or not, you can spend your whole life climbing a mountain to later realize you climbed the wrong one. When we live based on our egos desires, we make ego-driven decisions. Rather than serving our own special purposes, we can repeat repeat decisions result in outcomes we do not even want for ourselves.

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