October 11, 2019

Credit: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury/Getty Images

Whether they’re athletes like LeBron James, entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs, or entertainers like Kanye West, the richest and most famous among us are often known for having the largest egos. Why shouldn’t we follow their example? 

Ryan Holiday, author of “Ego is the Enemy,” tells us how ego can be a huge disadvantage - and even end careers. He also explains why he thinks our ego problem is getting worse, and what he believes we can do about it. 

Three Takeaways:

  • Ego can be a huge barrier to success, according to Holiday. He says that it can deceive people into thinking they’re perfect when, in reality, ego is making them more difficult to work with - and alienating those who could help them. 
  • But don’t people need a certain level of ego to succeed? According to Holiday, ego is often confused with confidence. While confidence entails believing in yourself and knowing your strengths, Holiday argues that ego deludes people into believing they are infallible geniuses. He says that though many of the famously successful have enormous egos, it’s because their talent is compensating for their ego, not resulting from it.
  • Holiday believes that contemporary culture has created a sense of virtue around ego. In an era of social media and rampant self-promotion, the belief that the world revolves around you has been normalized. Holiday argues that we can look to history, and beliefs and principles that may have waned (stoicism, religion, honor, etc.) to manage our egos.

 More reading:

  • Check out footage of someone who regularly subsumed his ego - despite difficult circumstances: Jackie Robinson. Here’s an interview with him, and his appearance on a game show
  • And here’s someone whose ego ran wild: John DeLorean. This is an interview with DeLorean during the launch of his eponymous car, and his reflections on his actions, and his ego.
  • Want to learn more about the history of the DeLorean? Check out this Vox video, which details the history of the DeLorean Motor Company and the unexpected ways that the car has endured to this day. 
  • Holiday says that the likes, comments, and shares on social media drive how we experience ego today. But what if we couldn’t see how many likes others get? Facebook and Instagram have been testing this idea, according to this article by the New York Times.

ego, innovation hub, Culture, Ryan Holiday, philosophy

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