Ego is the Enemy Book Summary By Ryan Holiday

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Ego is the Enemy is a book about understanding and countering the dangers of egotism.

Written in 2016 by Ryan Holiday, this book uses historical and cultural examples to show the reader how to keep their ego in check.

It covers several strategies we can use to rein in our pride, from finding a mentor who can help guide us, to learning how to delegate tasks to others.

Overall, Ego is the Enemy provides an insightful look at why staying grounded through self-reflection and healthy doses of humility can help secure future success.

Ego is the Enemy Book

Book Name: Ego is the Enemy (The Fight to Master Our Greatest Opponent)

Author(s): Ryan Holiday

Rating: 4.3/5

Reading Time: 22 Minutes

Categories: Management & Leadership

Author Bio

Ryan Holiday is an accomplished author, media strategist and owner of a bookstore.

He's best known for writing his book Ego is the Enemy, which gives advice on how to combat our own self-limiting egos in order to attain success.

Among his other books are The Daily Stoic, Stillness is the Key and Courage is Calling.

Ryan has also been hosting a podcast called the Daily Stoic which talks about identifying and reframing bad habits and having continual resilience.

His books can be found all over the world, giving readers guidance on how to control their own ego and become more successful in life.

Overcoming The Adversary Within: Battling Ego With Humility And Resilience


It’s time to tackle your worst enemy, your ego.

No amount of external success or failure can change the fact that you have the power to manage and control your own emotions and reactions.

At any given moment, you can be in one of three stages: aspire, success or failure.

How you deal with each of these stages has a direct relationship with what kind of person you are and how successful you will be in life.

That’s why it’s so important that you learn how to tame your ego when faced with a challenge.

Your ego is not ambition or confidence; it is unhealthy self-regard, selfish ambition and straight-up arrogance – factors which will stunt any progress or dreams that you may have.

By reading Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, readers will identifying solutions on how to stay humble during their aspirations, gracious in their successes and resilient towards failures – without allowing one’s ego become an obstacle along the way.

Here readers discover the often overlooked importance of humility, as it is key for succeeding in whatever path one may choose without getting lost through prideful thoughts or deeming associated accomplishments as ‘not enough’.

Through staying focused on what matters to oneself, readers learn that they can outsmart their egos and fight against making choices which could impede personal progress over time.

Humble Yourself And Leave Your Ego At The Door For True Success

When we aspire to achieve something, our ego can prevent us from improving.

We can overestimate our talent and think that because we’re clever or talented, we don’t need to put in the hard work and practice required to succeed.

But this isn’t true.

As the Stoic philosopher Epictetus taught us: “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows.”

Our intrinsic talent can give us a headstart, but it’s only through dedication, humility and diligence that we find success.

Consider the career of William Tecumseh Sherman, who rose from obscurity as an army officer up to become one of the most celebrated men in America during the Civil War.

He was offered a higher promotion by President Lincoln – but he refused, fully aware of his own capabilities at his current position.

When he eventually stepped up into this new role, it was based on all his hard work and careful self-assessment – not on false belief in his inherent genius.

This is the difference between confidence and ego: confidence is earned through our efforts and achievements; ego is assumed without respect to reality.

In life, humility and self-awareness will always bring you further than arrogance – so strive for a clear picture of your strengths, weaknesses and desires in order to truly advance yourself.

The Key To Success Is Hard Work And Enjoyment Of The Process

In the book Ego is the Enemy, Ryan Holiday discusses how countering ego helps individuals achieve success.

He focuses on those in the Aspire stage, who are aspiring and just getting started in the journey to their goals.

He gives three important pointers for counteracting ego: talk less, work more, and become a student.

First, talking too much wastes crucial time and energy that could be better used to actually do the work needed to reach one’s goals.

The ancient Greek poet Hesiod put it best: “A man’s best treasure is a thrifty tongue.” Second, Holiday advises against using success as an end point and instead encourages people to learn to enjoy the process of working hard toward achieving their goals; this also ensures that they get closer to reaching their ambitions.

Finally, becoming a student promotes wiser decision-making and allows for more objective analysis of one’s work since one can understand what needs to be improved upon in order to continue being successful.

Overall, Holiday emphasizes how taking action is more important than simply wanting something or thinking about it too deeply.

It takes hard work and dedication to become successful but Maynard James Keenan sums it up nicely when he said: “The best things come from living outside your comfort zone.” Following these three pointers will help any aspiring individual progress on their path towards greatness.

The Ego And Pride Hinder Us From Achieving Our Full Potential, But Staying In The Student Mentality Can Help Us Succeed

Student Mentality

Whenever you can experience success, it’s important to remain humble and stay focused on continuing to learn.

Kirk Hammett was already an incredible musician that experienced great success when Metallica invited him to join their band as the lead guitarist in 1983.

But this didn’t stop him from seeking out a teacher, Joe Satriani; a virtuoso guitar teacher who would become his mentor as he continued learning even more advanced techniques.

We can all take a lesson from Hammett and make sure our pride doesn’t get in the way of us progressing further.

To stay grounded and use our accomplishments as fuel rather than allowing them to have a negative effect on our ego, we should strive to maintain a “student” mentality throughout our journey – no matter what stage we are at.

This means treating every learning opportunity is an invaluable one that could lead to greater accomplishments down the line.

Take Steve Jobs for example – if he had allowed his pride to get in the way after creating the Apple II computer, we would likely never be enjoying iPhones or iPads today!

We owe it to ourselves and others not just to achieve success but also find ways of continually improving so that we don’t miss out on any possible opportunities that may arise down the line.

Understanding What Matters To Us Is The Key To Achieving Our Goals

Success often requires us to focus on what’s important, not just what appears to be popular or successful.

This is exemplified in the story of Ulysses S.


Despite being highly regarded in the army and having achieved a tremendous amount of success, he decided to run for president of the United States, an office that required a different set of skills than what he had cultivated as a military leader.

Without an understanding of his own motivations and goals, Grant’s tenure in office was considered disappointing at best.

He wasn’t able to understand or prioritize the tasks necessary for success because his ego had convinced him that he was the best person for the job.

On the other hand, William Tecumseh Sherman understood where his strengths lay and instead chose to focus on enhancing them rather than chasing after a position he was likely ill-suited for.

Unlike Grant, Sherman stuck with what he knew, turning it into one of America’s most impressive successes by using diligence and perseverance to realize his ambition without sacrificing his objectives.

Fighting Your Ego To Succeed: The Risks Of Not Delegating Tasks

There are certain situations in life where a healthy ego can help you go further.

But, when it comes to success in the business world, it’s important to keep your ego in check and learn when to let go of control.

That means delegating tasks and trusting your team to get the job done – just like exemplified by the failure of car manufacturer John DeLorean.

DeLorean had wanted out of his job at General Motors because he thought he knew better than his bosses about how to run a car manufacturing business.

He ended up starting his own company, but threw out the successful top-down responsibility structures that worked for GM.

In doing so he put himself in charge of every single decision and refused to delegate tasks – even as his lack of expertise and managerial skills became painfully apparent.

As we all know, DeLorean’s venture eventually failed due low levels of trust among its members and resulted in bankruptcy.

This is why it’s so important to recognize when it’s time to put our egos aside and trust those around us with tasks.

Workers that are delegated difficult tasks will achieve greater confidence over time which will benefit you as well as them (effectively making you more productive).

Trusting others can be a hard lesson to learn but you’ll reap nothing but rewards once mastered!

Accept Your Rejection And Take Advantage Of Unforeseen Opportunities


Sometimes things don’t always go according to plan, and that’s natural.

You may not get the promotion you’ve been working hard for or the big deal may not be sealed despite your best efforts.

In these cases, it can be tempting to be frustrated and disappointed – after all, our egos often tell us we deserve rewards!

But it’s important to understand that we can’t always control the outcome of our work or even people’s opinions of us.

That is why every failure should be viewed as an opportunity for honest reflection on why something didn’t go as planned.

This will help inform our plans for the next time and ensure better results in the future.

Take a cue from the New England Patriots football team.

Although they were lucky enough to find their star player Tom Brady in the 6th round, instead of celebrating this luck they worked on improving their scouting program so they could identify similar talent again.

And that paid off with four Super Bowl titles!

Wrap Up

In the end, Ego is the Enemy is all about how ego can be a major obstacle to success.

While ambition is important, it’s also important to recognize when ego gets in the way.

No matter what phase of life you’re in – aspiring, succeeding, or even failing – it’s essential to stay humble and learn from your mistakes.

Having self-awareness and humility are key to moving forward with strength.

When an obstacle gets in your way, don’t be too hard on yourself; instead use that as an opportunity to grow and become better than before.

Remember, willingness to learn and improve are essential for reaching your full potential in life; ego will only hold you back!

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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