Ego Is the Enemy
The instant Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and international bestseller
“While the history books are filled with tales of obsessive visionary geniuses who remade the world in their image with sheer, almost irrational force, I’ve found that 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.” —from the prologue
Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back.
Ego Is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to history. We meet fascinating figures such as George Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who all reached the highest levels of power and success by conquering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.
In an era that glorifies social media, reality TV, and other forms of shameless self-promotion, the battle against ego must be fought on many fronts. Armed with the lessons in this book, as Holiday writes, “you will be less invested in the story you tell about your own specialness, and as a result, you will be liberated to accomplish the world-changing work you’ve set out to achieve.”
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It’s wrecked the career of promising young geniuses.
It’s evaporated great fortunes and run companies into the ground.
It’s made adversity unbearable and turned struggle into shame.
It derails ambition, turns success into poison, and makes failure the most bitter...
—Steven Pressfield, author of the New York Times bestseller The War of Art
“The comedian Bill Hicks said the world was tainted with fevered egos. In Ego Is The Enemy, Ryan Holiday writes us all a prescription: humility. This book is packed with stories and quotes that will help you get out of your own way. Whether you’re starting out or starting over, you’ll find something to steal here.”
—Austin Kleon, author of the New York Times bestseller Steal Like An Artist
"This is a book I want every athlete, aspiring leader, entrepreneur, thinker and doer to read. Ryan Holiday is one of the most promising young writers of his generation."
—George Raveling, Hall of Fame Basketball coach, Nike’s Director of International Basketball
"I see the toxic vanity of ego at play every day and it never ceases to amaze me how often it wrecks promising creative endeavors. Read this book before it wrecks you or the projects and people you love. Consider it as urgently as you do a proper workout regimen and eating right. Ryan’s insights are priceless."
—Marc Ecko, founder of Ecko Unltd and Complex
"I don't have many rules in life, but one I never break is: If Ryan Holiday writes a book, I read it as soon as I can get my hands on it."
—Brian Koppelman, screenwriter and director, Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen and Billions
“In his new book Ryan Holiday attacks the greatest obstacle to mastery and true success in life—our insatiable ego. In an inspiring yet practical way, he teaches us how to manage and tame this beast within us so that we can focus on what really matters—producing the best work possible.”
—Robert Greene, author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Mastery
“We’re often told that to achieve success, we need confidence. With refreshing candor, Ryan Holiday challenges that assumption, highlighting how we can earn confidence by pursuing something bigger than our own success.”
—Adam Grant, author of the New York Times bestsellers Originals and Give and Take
“Once again Ryan Holiday has laid down the gauntlet for readers willing to challenge themselves with the tough questions of our time. Every reader will find truths that are pertinent to each of our lives. Ego can be the enemy if we are unarmed with the cautionary insights of history, scripture, and philosophy. As was said to St. Augustine more than a thousand years ago, 'pick it up and read'; for to not do so is to allow the enemy to bring despair.”
—Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of HLN’s “Dr. Drew On Call” and “Love Line”
"In this day in age where everyone seeks instant gratification, the idea of success is skewed - many believing the road to their goals is a linear path. As a former professional athlete I can tell you that the road is anything but linear. In fact it is one that consists of twists, turns, and ups and downs—it requires you to put your head down and put in the work. Ryan Holiday hits the nail on the head with this book, reminding us that the real success is in the journey and learning process. I only wish I had this gem as a reference during my playing days.”
—Lori Lindsey, former U.S. Women’s National Team soccer player
“Philosophy has gotten a bad rap, but Ryan Holiday is restoring it to its rightful place in our lives. This book—packed with unforgettable stories, strategies, and lessons—is perfect for anyone who strives to do and accomplish. It's no exaggeration to say that, after finishing it, you'll never open your laptop and sit down to work the same way again.”
—Jimmy Soni, former managing editor of Huffington Post and author of Rome's Last Citizen
“I would like to rip out every page and use them as wallpaper so I could be reminded constantly of the humility and work it takes to truly succeed. In the margins of my copy, I have scrawled the same message over and over—'pre-Gold.' Reading this inspiring book brought back me back to the humility and work ethic it took to win the Olympics.”
—Chandra Crawford, Olympic Gold Medalist
"What a valuable book for those in positions of authority! It has made me a better judge."
—The Honorable Frederic Block, United States District Judge and author of Disrobed
“It's rare that I finish a book then immediately reread it, this time with a yellow marker in hand…I can't recommend this book highly enough.”
—Kevin Rose, entrepreneur and technology investor
"Forget yourself and focus on the work. Be humble and persistent. Value discipline and results, not passion and confidence. Be lesser, do more. This message is crucial, but the opposite of almost every other book. I wish everyone would read this. I need to re-read it each year. It's that important."
—Derek Sivers, author of Anything You Want
"In an age when self-promotion and celebrity are glorified to the hilt and 'hero' gets overused, Ryan Holiday's book is a reminder that the biggest impediment to achievement is often ourselves. Holiday retells stories of the famous and not so famous that will both inspire you and stop you in your tracks. This is a book to savor by reading it in increments so the power of the examples sinks in, leaving time for healthy reflection. If the rat race of modern life has you feeling burned out, Ego is the Enemy just might help you view philosophy as anything but a relic of the ancient Greeks."
—Edith Chapin, executive editor at NPR News