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Ego is the Enemy Book Highlights

By July 30, 2023No Comments

Ego is the Enemy Book Cover

Every book I have read authored by Ryan Holiday has struck me with his genius. Recently a friend recommended this book to me when I was disappointed in something that happened, he told me it was my ‘ego’ that was hurt, sad, even scared … he was right.

If you enjoy Ryan’s books, you might also enjoy Discipline is Destiny we have a summary of that here.


  • To whatever you aspire, ego is your enemy

  • “Constantly train your intellect, for the greatest thing in the smallest compass is a sound mind in a human body” – Demonicus
  • We learn that while we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose – but an iterative-one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.
  • “Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know” – Lao Tzu
  • We seem to think that silence is a sign of weakness. In actuality, silence is strength- particularly early on in any journey.
  • Doing great work is a struggle.
  • To be or to do? Which way will you go?
  • Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.
  • Think about this next time you face a choice: Do I need this? Or is it really about ego? Are you ready to make the right decision? Or do the prizes still glitter off in the distance? To be or to do -life is a constant roll call.
  • The power of being a student is not just that is an extended period of instruction; it also places the ego and ambition in someone else’s hands.
  • When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
  • Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.
  • Leave passion is for the amateurs.
  • The canvas strategy is about helping yourself by helping others. Once we fight this emotional and egotisitical impulse, the canvas strategy is easy.
  • Discover opportunities to promote other’s creativity, find outlets and people for collaboration, and eliminate distractions that hinder their progress and focus. It is a rewarding and infinitely scalable power strategy. Consider each one an investment in relationships and in your own development.
  • Get out of your own head.
  • Pride blunts the very instrument we need to own in order to succeed: our mind.
  • Pride is a masterful encroacher.
  • “The first product of self-knowledge is humility” Flannery O’Connor
  • Where we decide to put our energy decides what we’ll ultimately accomplish.
  • “Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes.”
  • Work is finding yourself alone at the track when the weather kept everyone else indoors.
  • Ego is a wicked sister of success.


  • To whatever success you have achieved, ego is the enemy.

  • Always stay a student.
  • Don’t tell yourself a story.
  • Bill Walsh (the coach that turned around the 49ers) had the Standard of Performance to instill excellence. If the players take care of the details, the score takes care of itself.
  • All of us waste precious life doing things we don’t like, to prove ourselves to people we don’t respect, and to get things we don’t want.
  • Ego undermines greatness by deluding its holder.
  • Ego rejects tradeoffs. Why compromise? Ego wants it all.
  • Find out why you are after what you are after. Ignore those who mess with your pace. Let them covet what you have, not the other way around.
  • Achieving success involved ignoring the doubts and reservations of the people around us. It meant rejecting rejection. It required taking certain risks.
  • Micromanagers are egotists who can’t manage others and they quickly get overloaded. So do the charismatic visionaries who lose interest when it’s time to execute.
  • Responsibility requires a readjustment and then increased clarity and purpose.
  • It doesn’t make you a bad person to want to be remembered. Soccer coach Tony Adams said, “Play for the name on the front of the jersey and they’ll remember the name on the back.”
  • When we lack a connection to anything larger or bigger than us, it’s like a piece of our soul is gone.
  • Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you’re convinced the world revolves around you.
  • If you want to live happen, live hidden.


  • To whatever failure and challenges you will face, ego is the enemy.

  • A brilliant example of how Katherine Graham (who inherited the Washington Post after her husband committed suicide) faced enormous difficulty and doubters, negative feedback, bad press but she knew her purpose and was determined and focused, and had the support of a young financial mind (Warren Buffet)
  • Robert Greene said there are two types of time in our lives: dead time and alive time. Every moment of failure, every moment or situation that we did not deliberately choose or control, presents this choice: alive time or dead time.
  • John Wooden told his players, “change is the definition of success. Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  • Doing the work is enough.
  • We surround ourselves with bullshit. With distractions. With lies about what makes us happy and what’s important. The bigger the ego, the harder the fall.
  • Ego asks, “Why is this happening to me? How do I save this and prove to everyone I am as great as they think?” It’s the animal fear of even the slightest sign of weakness.
  • Great people hold themselves to a higher stand 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 their standards are much higher than everyone else’s.
  • A person who judges himself based on his own standards doesn’t crave the spotlight the same way someone who lets applause dictate success. A person who can think long term doesn’t pity herself during short-term setbacks.
  • Always love. Love is transformational.
  • Love is right there—Egoless, open, positive, vulnerable, peaceful, and productive.

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