Ego Is the Enemy Quotes by Ryan Holiday

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What are some of the key Ego Is the Enemy quotes by Ryan Holiday? What do these quotes say about the consequences of having an unchecked ego?

In Ego Is the Enemy, best-selling author Ryan Holiday discusses the ways an inflated ego can keep you from achieving success, destroy the success you’ve already achieved, and prevent you from emerging from failure. The following Ego Is the Enemy quotes highlight some of the author’s key ideas about having an inflated sense of ego.

Check out these five Ego Is the Enemy quotes by Ryan Holiday.

Ego Is the Enemy Quotes by Ryan Holiday

“Anyone can talk about himself or herself. Even a child knows how to gossip and chatter. Most people are decent at hype and sales. So what is scarce and rare? Silence. The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.”

Ego often drives people to talk about themselves in positive, self-aggrandizing ways. However, egotistical talk can prevent us from achieving the very things we’re bragging about because it replaces action. But if we instead allow for silence, our minds start the true work of wrestling with the challenge we face. This is why people who achieve great things often don’t broadcast what they are working toward until they are well on their way.

To become what we ultimately hope to become often takes long periods of obscurity, of sitting and wrestling with some topic of paradox. Humility is what keeps us there, concerned that we don’t know enough and that we must continue to study. Ego rushes to the end, rationalizes that patience is for losers, and assumes that we’re good enough to give our talents a go in the world.”

Ego can interfere with your ability to achieve your goals by convincing you that you don’t need improvement, that you know everything you need to know, and that you can stop learning. To counter the false belief that you are beyond needing improvement and to open yourself to a life of learning:

  • Honestly assess yourself and your shortcomings. 
  • Accept that others know more than you do.
  • Embrace feedback, no matter how negative. 
  • Constantly be on the lookout for the next challenge, so that you can continue to learn and grow.

“Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.”

Your ego wants other people to recognize your work in a positive way. In fact, sometimes your ego defines success based entirely on how much or how little others give you such recognition, through honors, praise, awards, job titles, raises, and so on. Unfortunately, if you let your ego define success for you in this way, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment, because you can’t control how the world receives your work. Because you can only control your own actions, you should evaluate success by judging those actions alone, regardless of how your audience receives them: Focus on efforts, not outcomes

Ego Is the Enemy Quotes by Ryan Holiday

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Here's what you'll find in our full Ego Is the Enemy summary:

  • How to resist your emotions so you can keep thinking clearly
  • Why your passion may be preventing you from achieving your goals
  • How to apply the philosophy of Stoicism for success as a leader

Darya Sinusoid

Darya’s love for reading started with fantasy novels (The LOTR trilogy is still her all-time-favorite). Growing up, however, she found herself transitioning to non-fiction, psychological, and self-help books. She has a degree in Psychology and a deep passion for the subject. She likes reading research-informed books that distill the workings of the human brain/mind/consciousness and thinking of ways to apply the insights to her own life. Some of her favorites include Thinking, Fast and Slow, How We Decide, and The Wisdom of the Enneagram.

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