Ego. I have one, you have one, and your 85 year old grandma still has one although hers is probably a little more in check than yours and mine. But maybe not. Maybe she’s a 85 year old witch and by witch I mean complete bitch. Hands down this is easily one of my favorite books to date. This is one of those books where every other page you catch yourself pulling away useful information that’s actually going to stick with you for the long haul.
Just like his previous book, The Obstacle Is The Way (another favorite), Ryan Holiday brings philosophical concepts to light by giving us examples of people who throughout history have either learned how to work alongside their ego, or have let it consume them which ultimately led to their downfall. Just because you think you have your ego under wraps doesn’t mean that you’re good to go. One thing that people don’t want to hear but is absolutely crucial is that until the day we die we must constantly keep up with some form of movement to help reduce pain in the body. There are no expectations. Well, the same rules apply to maintain a healthy ego as well as a mindfulness based practice. Day in and day out you must always be on the ball. Perfect metaphor from the book to help unpack this: “Daniele Bolelli once gave me a helpful metaphor. He explained that training was like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day the dust comes back. Every day we must sweep.”
Don’t sleep on this book. Learn how to get a better grip on the ego because an ego left unchecked can be the very thing that surprises us when we least expect it and takes everything that we have without warning.
Standouts: “The distinction between a professional and a dilettante occurs right there-when you accept that having an idea is not enough; that you must work until you are able to recreate your experience effectively in words on the page.”
“We must prepare for pride and kill it early–or it will kill what we aspire to.”
“The question to ask, when you feel pride, then, is this: What am I missing right now that more humble person might see? What am I avoiding, or running from, with my bluster, franticness, and embellishments?”
“In fact, many valuable endeavors we undertake are painfully difficult, whether it’s coding a new startup or mastering a craft. But talking, talking is always easy.”
“Let the others slap each other on the back while you’re back in the lab or the gym or pounding the pavement. Plug that hole–that one, right in the middle of your face–that drains you of your vital life force. Watch what happens. Watch how much better you get.”
Recommended for: For anybody with an ego. Simple.