My highlights from Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Note: Click on the section title or the arrow ► to see the full content.
THE PAINFUL PROLOGUE
  • To go from wanting to be like someone your whole life to realizing you never want to be like him is a kind of whiplash that you can’t prepare for.
  • You think you’re doing what you’re supposed to. Society rewards you for it. But then you watch your future wife walk out the door because you aren’t the person you used to be.
  • A few months after my own realization, I had the phrase “EGO IS THE ENEMY” tattooed on my right forearm.
  • I wrote this book not because I have attained some wisdom I feel qualified to preach, but because it’s the book I wish existed at critical turning points in my own life.
  • if you go looking you’ll find 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.
  • we must fight to be different and fight to stay different—that’s the hard part
  • We might not ever be straight, but we can strive for straighter.
INTRODUCTION
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself—and you are the easiest person to fool. —RICHARD FEYNMAN
  • Precisely what makes us so promising as thinkers, doers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, what drives us to the top of those fields, makes us vulnerable to this darker side of the psyche.
  • The ego we see most commonly goes by a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition. That’s the definition this book will use.
  • ego is the enemy of what you want and of what you have: Of mastering a craft. Of real creative insight. Of working well with others. Of building loyalty and support. Of longevity. Of repeating and retaining your success.
  • We don’t usually see it this way. We think something else is to blame for our problems (most often, other people).
  • sick man ignorant of the cause of his malady.” Especially for successful people who can’t see what ego prevents them from doing because all they can see is what they’ve already done.
  • some people, not knowing what is underneath such an attitude, mistake his arrogance for a sense of power and self-confidence
  • ego inhibits true success by preventing a direct and honest connection to the world around us
  • One of the early members of Alcoholics Anonymous defined ego as “a conscious separation from.” From what? Everything.
  • Marina Abramović puts it directly: “If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.”
  • Just one thing keeps ego around—comfort.
  • ego tells us what we want to hear, when we want to hear it.
EGO WAS ALWAYS THERE. NOW IT’S EMBOLDENED.
  • Now more than ever, our culture fans the flames of ego. It’s never been easier to talk, to puff ourselves up.
  • Some of us do this more than others. But it’s only a matter of degree.
  • We assume the symptoms of success are the same as success itself—and in our naiveté, confuse the by-product with the cause.
 
WHEREVER YOU ARE, EGO IS TOO.
  • Most of us are in these stages in a fluid sense—we’re aspiring until we succeed, we succeed until we fail or until we aspire to more, and after we fail we can begin to aspire or succeed again.
  • Ego is the enemy every step along this way
  • Humble in our aspirations Gracious in our success Resilient in our failures
 
SO, WHAT NOW?
  • This book you hold in your hands is written around one optimistic assumption: Your ego is not some power you’re forced to satiate at every turn. It can be managed. It can be directed.
  • Wait, but so-and-so had a huge ego and was successful. But what about Steve Jobs? What about Kanye West? We can seek to rationalize the worst behavior by pointing to outliers. But no one is truly successful because they are delusional, self-absorbed, or disconnected. Even if these traits are correlated or associated with certain well-known individuals, so are a few others: addiction, abuse (of themselves and others), depression, mania.
  • When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real. What replaces ego is humility, yes—but rockhard humility and confidence.
  • Ego is stolen. Confidence is earned.
  • Some learn humility. Some choose ego.
 
PART 1: ASPIRE
Aspire
  • because the path of ambition can be dangerous.
  • “Practice self-control,” he said, warning Demonicus not to fall under the sway of “temper, pleasure, and pain.” And “abhor flatterers as you would deceivers; for both, if trusted, injure those who trust them.”
  • “best thing which we have in ourselves is good judgment.”
  • By the end of the war, Sherman was one of the most famous men in America, and yet he sought no public office, had no taste for politics, and wished simply to do his job and then eventually retire.
  • “Be natural and yourself and this glittering flattery will be as the passing breeze of the sea on a warm summer day.”
  • Among men who rise to fame and leadership two types are recognizable—those who are born with a belief in themselves and those in whom it is a slow growth dependent on actual achievement. To the men of the last type their own success is a constant surprise, and its fruits the more delicious
  • As Irving Berlin put it, “Talent is only the starting point.” The question is: Will you be able to make the most of it? Or will you be your own worst enemy? Will you snuff out the flame that is just getting going?
  • What we see in Sherman was a man deeply tied and connected to reality. He was a man who came from nothing and accomplished great things, without ever feeling that he was in someway entitled to the honors he received.
  • It is certainly more pleasurable to focus on our talents and strengths, but where does that get us? Arrogance and self-absorption inhibit growth
  • It’s easy to be emotionally invested and infatuated with your own work. Any and every narcissist can do that. What is rare is not raw talent, skill, or even confidence, but humility, diligence, and self-awareness.
  • though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek. Because we will be action and education focused, and forgo validation and status, our ambition will not be grandiose but iterative—one foot in front of the other, learning and growing and putting in the time.
  • Facts are better than dreams, as Churchill put it.
TALK, TALK, TALK
  • Those who know do not speak. Those who speak do not know. —LAO TZU
  • It’s a temptation that exists for everyone—for talk and hype to replace action.
  • There’s a weak side to each of us, that—like a trade union—isn’t exactly malicious but at the end of the day still wants get as much public credit and attention as it can for doing the least. That side we call ego.
  • It was easier to talk about writing, to do the exciting things related to art and creativity and literature, than to commit the act itself
  • 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.
  • We seem to think that silence is a sign of weakness. That being ignored is tantamount to death
  • In actuality, silence is strength—particularly early on in any journey.
  • Kierkegaard warned, “Mere gossip anticipates real talk, and to express what is still in thought weakens action by forestalling it.”
  • Most people are decent at hype and sales. So what is scarce and rare? Silence.
  • The baseball and football great Bo Jackson decided he had two things he wanted to accomplish as an athlete at Auburn: he would win the Heisman Trophy and be taken first in the NFL draft. Do you know who he told? Nobody but his girlfriend.
  • Research shows that while goal visualization is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress.
  • Even talking aloud to ourselves while we work through difficult problems has been shown to significantly decrease insight and breakthroughs.
  • Success requires a full 100 percent of our effort, and talk flitters part of that effort away before we can use it.
  • In our building phase, resistance will be a constant source of discomfort. Talking—listening to ourselves talk, performing for an audience—is almost like therapy. I just spent four hours talking about this. Doesn’t that count for something? The answer is no.
  • The question is, when faced with your particular challenge
  • do you seek the respite of talk or do you face the struggle head-on?
  • The only relationship between work and chatter is that one kills the other.
TO BE OR TO DO?
  • One of the most influential strategists and practitioners in modern warfare is someone most people have never heard of. His name was John Boyd
  • He never published any books and he wrote only one academic paper.
  • Boyd wasn’t promoted above the rank of colonel
  • one day you will come to a fork in the road, you’re going to have to make a decision about which direction you want to go. If you go that way you can be somebody. You will have to make compromises and you will have to turn your back on your friends. But you will be a member of the club and you will get promoted and you will get good assignments. “Or,” he said, “you can go that way and you can do something—something for your country and for your Air Force and for yourself. If you decide you want to do something, you may not get promoted and you may not get the good assignments and you certainly will not be a favorite of your superiors. But you won’t have to compromise yourself. You will be true to your friends and to yourself. And your work might make a difference. To be somebody or to do something. In life there is often a roll call. That’s when you will have to make a decision.
  • To be or to do? Which way will you go?
  • How do you prevent derailment? Well, often we fall in love with an image of what success looks like.
  • Having authority is not the same as being an authority. Having the right and being right are not the same either. Being promoted doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing good work and it doesn’t mean you are worthy of promotion
  • Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.
  • Boyd had another exercise, he’d write on the chalkboard in big letters the words: DUTY, HONOR, COUNTRY. Then he would cross those words out and replace them with three others: PRIDE, POWER, GREED. His point was that many of the systems and structures in the military—the ones that soldiers navigate in order to get ahead—can corrupt the very values they set out to serve.
  • A man is worked upon by what he works on,” Frederick Douglass once said
  • What you choose to do with your time and what you choose to do for money works on you. The egocentric path requires, as Boyd knew, many compromises.
  • In this course, it is not “Who do I want to be in life?” but “What is it that I want to accomplish in life?” Setting aside selfish interest, it asks: What calling does it serve? What principles govern my choices? Do I want to be like everyone else or do I want to do something different?
 
BECOME A STUDENT
  • We don’t like thinking that someone is better than us. Or that we have a lot left to learn.
  • We want to be done. We want to be ready.
  • “False ideas about yourself destroy you. For me, I always stay a student. That’s what martial arts are about, and you have to use that humility as a tool. You put yourself beneath someone you trust.”
  • To become great and to stay great, they must all know what came before, what is going on now, and what comes next. They must internalize the fundamentals of their domain and what surrounds them,
  • The temptation is to think: I’ve made it. I’ve arrived. They tossed the other guy because he’s not as good as I am.
  • They chose me because I have what it takes. Had he done that, we’d probably have never heard of him or the band.
  • A true student is like a sponge. Absorbing what goes on around him, filtering it, latching on to what he can hold.
  • A student is self-critical and self-motivated, always trying to improve his understanding so that he can move on to the next topic, the next challenge.
  • A real student is also his own teacher and his own critic. There is no room for ego there.
  • If a fighter is not capable of learning and practicing every day, if he is not relentlessly looking for areas of improvement, examining his own shortcomings, and finding new techniques to borrow from peers and opponents, he will be broken down and destroyed.
  • “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows,” Epictetus says. You can’t learn if you think you already know.
  • You cannot get better if you’re convinced you are the best.
  • We not only need to take this harsh feedback, but actively solicit it, labor to seek out the negative precisely when our friends and family and brain are telling us that we’re doing great. The ego avoids such feedback at all costs,
  • Today, books are cheaper than ever. Courses are free. Access to teachers is no longer a barrier— technology has done away with that.
  • “When student is ready, the teacher appears.”
 
DON’T BE PASSIONATE
  • his philosophy was about being in control and doing your job and never being “passion’s slave.”
  • The player who learned that lesson from Wooden would later change his name to one you remember better: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
  • Roosevelt, one of the most powerful and influential female activists in history and certainly America’s most important First Lady, was known primarily for her grace, her poise, and her sense of direction. Wooden won ten titles in twelve years, including seven in a row, because he developed a system for winning and worked with his players to follow it.
  • Neither of them were driven by excitement, nor were they bodies in constant motion. Instead, it took them years to become the person they became known as. It was a process of accumulation.
  • Because we only seem to hear about the passion of successful people, we forget that failures shared the same trait.
  • Passion typically masks a weakness. Its breathlessness and impetuousness and franticness are poor substitutes for discipline, for mastery, for strength and purpose and perseverance.
  • What humans require in our ascent is purpose and realism. Purpose, you could say, is like passion with boundaries. Realism is detachment and perspective.
  • Passion is about. (I am so passionate about ______.) Purpose is to and for. (I must do ______. I was put here to accomplish ______. I am willing to endure ______ for the sake of this.) Actually, purpose deemphasizes the I. Purpose is about pursuing something outside yourself as opposed to pleasuring yourself.
  • The critical work that you want to do will require your deliberation and consideration. Not passion. Not naïveté.
  • Leave passion for the amateurs. Make it about what you feel you must do and say, not what you care about and wish to be.
FOLLOW THE CANVAS STRATEGY
  • Great men have almost always shown themselves as ready to obey as they afterwards proved able to command. —LORD MAHON
  • It’s worth taking a look at the supposed indignities of “serving” someone else. Because in reality, not only is the apprentice model responsible for some of the greatest art in the history of the world— everyone from Michelangelo to Leonardo da Vinci to Benjamin Franklin has been forced to navigate such a system—but if you’re going to be the big deal you think you are going to be, isn’t this a rather trivial temporary imposition?
  • Clear the path for the people above you and you will eventually create a path for yourself.
  • When you are just starting out, we can be sure of a few fundamental realities: 1) You’re not nearly as good or as important as you think you are; 2) You have an attitude that needs to be readjusted; 3) Most of what you think you know or most of what you learned in books or in school is out of date or wrong.
  • There’s one fabulous way to work all that out of your system: attach yourself to people and organizations who are already successful and subsume your identity into theirs and move both forward simultaneously. It’s certainly more glamorous to pursue your own glory—though hardly as effective.
  • That’s the other effect of this attitude: it reduces your ego at a critical time in your career, letting you absorb everything you can without the obstructions that block others’ vision and progress.
  • You gave him an assignment and he disappeared into a room and you didn’t see him again until it was done, and then he wanted to do more,”
  • As you can guess, Belichick started getting paid very soon.
  • Franklin would never have been published if he’d prioritized credit over creative expression
  • Belichick wouldn’t have sat through thousands of hours of film if he cared about status.
  • Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work. It means you’re the least important person in the room—until you change that with results.
  • There is an old saying, “Say little, do much.”
  • Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you. The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.
  • That’s what the canvas strategy is about—helping yourself by helping others
  • Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you—that was your aim, after all. Let the others take their credit on credit, while you defer and earn interest on the principal.
  • It’s easy to be bitter, like Martial. To hate even the thought of subservience.
  • Once we fight this emotional and egotistical impulse, the canvas strategy is easy. The iterations are endless.
    • Maybe it’s coming up with ideas to hand over to your boss.
    • Find people, thinkers, up-and-comers to introduce them to each other.
    • Cross wires to create new sparks.
    • Find what nobody else wants to do and do it.
    • Find inefficiencies and waste and redundancies.
    • Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas.
    • Produce more than everyone else and give your ideas away
  • The canvas strategy is there for you at any time. There is no expiration date on it either. It’s one of the few that age does not limit—on either side, young or old.
  • if you pick up this mantle once, you’ll see what most people’s egos prevent them from appreciating: the person who clears the path ultimately controls its direction, just as the canvas shapes the painting.
 
RESTRAIN YOURSELF
  • I have observed that those who have accomplished the greatest results are those who “keep under the body”; are those who never grow excited or lose self-control, but are always calm, self-possessed, patient, and polite. —BOOKER T. WASHINGTON
  • Our own path, whatever we aspire to, will in some ways be defined by the amount of nonsense we are willing to deal with. Our humiliations will pale in comparison to Robinson’s, but it will still be hard. It will still be tough to keep our self-control.
  • Getting angry, getting emotional, losing restraint is a recipe for failure in the ring.
  • You have a million dollars or a wall full of awards? That doesn’t mean anything in the new field you’re trying to tackle.
  • It doesn’t matter how talented you are, how great your connections are, how much money you have. When you want to do something—something big and important and meaningful—you will be subjected to treatment ranging from indifference to outright sabotage. Count on it.
  • Those who have subdued their ego understand that it doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.
  • When someone doesn’t reckon you with the seriousness that you’d like, the impulse is to correct them
  • your ego screams for you to indulge it.
  • Instead, you must do nothing. Take it. Eat it until you’re sick. Endure it. Quietly brush it off and work harder. Play the game. Ignore the noise; for the love of God, do not let it distract you.
  • Restraint is a difficult skill but a critical one.
  • It is a timeless fact of life that the up-and-coming must endure the abuses of the entrenched.
 
GET OUT OF YOUR OWN HEAD
  • A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so he loses touch with reality and lives in a world of illusions. —ALAN WATTS
  • only after he’d conquered his almost teenage indolence and existential crisis, which lasted alarmingly into his forties
  • We tend to think that ego equals confidence,
  • In fact, it can have the opposite effect. In McClellan’s case it deprived him of the ability to lead. It robbed him of the ability to think that he even needed to act.
  • The novelist Anne Lamott describes that ego story well. “If you are not careful,” she warns young writers, “station KFKD (K-Fucked) will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo.”
  • It is natural for any young, ambitious person to get excited and swept up by their thoughts and feelings. Especially in a world that tells us to keep and promote a “personal brand.”
  • the psychologist David Elkind has famously researched, adolescence is marked by a phenomenon known now as the “imaginary audience.”
  • What successful people do is curb such flights of fancy. They ignore the temptations that might make them feel important or skew their perspective. - General George C. Marshall
  • refused to keep a diary during World War II despite the requests of historians and friends. He worried that it would turn his quiet, reflective time into a sort of performance and self-deception. That he might second-guess difficult decisions out of concern for his reputation and future readers and warp his thinking based on how they would look.
  • Our imagination—in many senses an asset—is dangerous when it runs wild.
  • Don’t live in the haze of the abstract, live with the tangible and real, even if—especially if—it’s uncomfortable.
  • There’s no one to perform for. There is just work to be done and lessons to be learned
 
THE DANGER OF EARLY PRIDE
  • A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you. —C. S. LEWIS
  • Christians believe that pride is a sin because it is a lie—it convinces people that they are better than they are, that they are better than God made them. Pride leads to arrogance and then away from humility and connection with their fellow man.
  • You don’t have to be Christian to see the wisdom in this. You need only to care about your career to understand that pride—even in real accomplishments—is a distraction and a deluder.
  • Pride blunts the very instrument we need to own in order to succeed: our mind. Our ability to learn, to adapt, to be flexible, to build relationships, all of this is dulled by pride.
  • Pride takes a minor accomplishment and makes it feel like a major one.
  • The way to cook a rabbit is first to catch a rabbit
  • If you’re doing the work and putting in the time, you won’t need to cheat, you won’t need to overcompensate.
  • Rockefeller knew he needed to rein himself in and to privately manage his ego. Night after night he asked himself, “Are you going to be a fool? Are you going to let this money puff you up?” “Keep your eyes open,” he admonished himself. “Don’t lose your balance.”
  • As he later reflected, “I had a horror of the danger of arrogance. What a pitiful thing it is when a man lets a little temporary success spoil him, warp his judgment, and he forgets what he is!”
  • Receive feedback, maintain hunger,
  • As the famous conqueror and warrior Genghis Khan groomed his sons
  • “If you can’t swallow your pride, you can’t lead.”
  • He would say, “Even the tallest mountains have animals that, when they stand on it, are higher than the mountain.”
  • What we don’t protect ourselves against are people and things that make us feel good—or rather, too good.
  • We must prepare for pride and kill it early—or it will kill what we aspire to.
  • “The first product of self-knowledge is humility,” Flannery O’Connor once said.
  • This is how we fight the ego, by really knowing ourselves.
  • The question to ask, when you feel pride, then, is this: What am I missing right now that a more humble person might see? What am I avoiding, or running from
  • It’s worth saying: just because you are quiet doesn’t mean that you are without pride. Privately thinking you’re better than others is still pride. It’s still dangerous.
  • At the end, this isn’t about deferring pride because you don’t deserve it yet. It isn’t “Don’t boast about what hasn’t happened yet.” It is more directly “Don’t boast.” There’s nothing in it for you.
WORK, WORK, WORK
  • The best plan is only good intentions unless it degenerates into work. —PETER DRUCKER
  • “You can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do,” was how Henry Ford put it
  • The investor and serial entrepreneur Ben Horowitz put it more bluntly: “The hard thing isn’t setting a big, hairy, audacious goal. The hard thing is laying people off when you miss the big goal. . . . The hard thing isn’t dreaming big. The hard thing is waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat when the dream turns into a nightmare.”
  • Not work until you get your big break, not work until you make a name for yourself, but work, work, work, forever and ever.
  • Is it ten thousand hours or twenty thousand hours to mastery? The answer is that it doesn’t matter. There is no end zone. To think of a number is to live in a conditional future
  • it’s all within reach —for all of us, provided we have the constitution and humbleness to be patient and the fortitude to put in the work.
  • Our ego wants to be paid well for its time and it wants to do the fun stuff—the stuff that gets attention, credit, or glory.
  • That’s the reality. Where we decide to put our energy decides what we’ll ultimately accomplish.
  • Do we love practice, the way great athletes do? Or do we chase short-term attention and validation—whether that’s indulging in the endless search for ideas or simply the distraction of talk and chatter?
  • As a young basketball player, Bill Bradley would remind himself, “When you are not practicing, remember, someone somewhere is practicing, and when you meet him he will win.”
  • You can lie to yourself, saying that you put in the time, or pretend that you’re working, but eventually someone will show up. You’ll be tested. And quite possibly, found out.
  • Every time you sit down to work, remind yourself: I am delaying gratification by doing this. I am passing the marshmallow test. I am earning what my ambition burns for. I am making an investment in myself instead of in my ego. Give yourself a little credit for this choice, but not so much, because you’ve got to get back to the task at hand: practicing, working, improving.
  • Work is pushing through the pain and crappy first drafts and prototypes. It is ignoring whatever plaudits others are getting, and more importantly, ignoring whatever plaudits you may be getting.
  • Work doesn’t want to be good
FOR EVERYTHING THAT COMES NEXT, EGO IS THE ENEMY . . .
  • We know where we want to end up: success.
  • The problem is that we’re not sure that humility can get us there.
  • we might bluster our way through. Cover up hard truths with sheer force of personality and drive and passion. Or, we can face our shortcomings honestly and put the time in.
  • We can let this humble us, see clearly where we are talented and where we need to improve, and then put in the work to bridge that gap. And we can set upon positive habits that will last a lifetime.
  • what is truly ambitious is to face life and proceed with quiet confidence in spite of the distractions. Let others grasp at crutches.
PART 2: SUCCESS
SUCCESS
  • Why is success so ephemeral? Ego shortens it.
  • Whether a collapse is dramatic or a slow erosion,
  • We stop learning, we stop listening, and we lose our grasp on what matters.
  • Sobriety, open-mindedness, organization, and purpose—these are the great stabilizers. They balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition.
  • Without virtue and training, Aristotle observed, “it is hard to bear the results of good fortune suitably.”
  • His endless taste for the spotlight, no matter how unflattering, gives us an opportunity to see our own tendencies, our own struggles with success and luck
  • We know that empires always fall, so we must think about why
  • “The worst disease which can afflict business executives in their work is not, as popularly supposed, alcoholism; it’s egotism,” Geneen famously said
  • After we give ourselves proper credit, ego wants us to think, I’m special. I’m better. The rules don’t apply to me.
  • Without the right values, success is brief.
  • Success is intoxicating, yet to sustain it requires sobriety
  • We cannot buy into myths we make ourselves, or the noise and chatter of the outside world. We must understand that we are a small part of an interconnected universe.
  • On top of all this, we have to build an organization and a system around what we do—one that is about the work and not about us.
 
ALWAYS STAY A STUDENT
  • Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him. —RALPH WALDO EMERSON
  • Genghis Khan was the greatest conqueror the world ever knew because he was more open to learning than any other conqueror has ever been
  • As we first succeed, we will find ourselves in new situations, facing new problems.
  • The physicist John Wheeler, who helped develop the hydrogen bomb, once observed that “as our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance.”
  • It takes a special kind of humility to grasp that you know less, even as you know and grasp more and more. It’s remembering Socrates’ wisdom lay in the fact that he knew that he knew next to nothing
  • With accomplishment comes a growing pressure to pretend that we know more than we do.
  • That’s the worry and the risk—thinking that we’re set and secure, when in reality understanding and mastery is a fluid, continual process.
  • Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’
  • No matter what you’ve done up to this point, you better still be a student. If you’re not still learning, you’re already dying.
  • Learn from everyone and everything. From the people you beat, and the people who beat you, from the people you dislike, even from your supposed enemies.
  • even if the lesson is purely remedial, we must not let ego block us from hearing it again.
  • Too often, convinced of our own intelligence, we stay in a comfort zone that ensures that we never feel stupid (and are never challenged to learn or reconsider what we know).
  • The second we let the ego tell us we have graduated, learning grinds to a halt.
  • The solution is as straightforward as it is initially uncomfortable: Pick up a book on a topic you know next to nothing about. Put yourself in rooms where you’re the least knowledgeable person.
  • An amateur is defensive. The professional finds learning (and even, occasionally, being shown up) to be enjoyable; they like being challenged and humbled, and engage in education as an ongoing and endless process.
 
DON’T TELL YOURSELF A STORY
  • Myth becomes myth not in the living but in the retelling. —DAVID MARANISS
  • general manager Bill Walsh took the 49ers from being the worst team in football, and perhaps professional sports, to a Super Bowl victory, in just three years.
  • when Bill Walsh took control, he wasn’t focused on winning per se. Instead, he implemented what he called his “Standard of Performance.” That is: What should be done. When. How.
  • Walsh had only one timetable, and it was all about instilling these standards.
  • He focused on seemingly trivial details: Players could not sit down on the practice field. Coaches had to wear a tie and tuck their shirts in. Everyone had to give maximum effort and commitment.
  • Practices were scheduled to the minute
  • These seemingly simple but exacting standards mattered more than some grand vision or power trip.
  • In his eyes, if the players take care of the details, “the score takes care of itself.” The winning would happen.
  • We want so desperately to believe that those who have great empires set out to build one. Why? So we can indulge in the pleasurable planning of ours.
  • Crafting stories out of past events is a very human impulse.
  • These narratives don’t change the past, but they do have the power to negatively impact our future.
  • Here’s the other part: once you win, everyone is gunning for you. It’s during your moment at the top that you can afford ego the least—because the stakes are so much higher, the margins for error are so much smaller. If anything, your ability to listen, to hear feedback, to improve and grow matter more now than ever before.
  • Facts are better than stories and image.
  • Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, has talked about this temptation. He reminds himself that there was “no aha moment” for his billion-dollar behemoth,
  • When we are aspiring we must resist the impulse to reverse engineer success from other people’s stories. When we achieve our own, we must resist the desire to pretend that everything unfolded exactly as we’d planned.
  • Paul Graham famous piece of advice, “Keep your identity small,”
  • Make it about the work and the principles behind it—not about a glorious vision that makes a good headline.
  • There is a real danger in believing it when people use the word “genius”—and it’s even more dangerous when we let hubris tell ourselves we are one.
  • artists who think it was “inspiration” or “pain” that fueled their art and create an image around that—instead of hard work and sincere hustle—will eventually find themselves at the bottom of a bottle or on the wrong end of a needle.
  • The same goes for us, whatever we do. Instead of pretending that we are living some great story, we must remain focused on the execution—and on executing with excellence. We must shun the false crown and continue working on what got us here. Because that’s the only thing that will keep us here.
 
 
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
  • To know what you like is the beginning of wisdom and of old age. —ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
  • we’re never happy with what we have, we want what others have too. We want to have more than everyone else.
  • We start out knowing what is important to us, but once we’ve achieved it, we lose sight of our priorities. Ego sways us, and can ruin us.
  • All of us regularly say yes unthinkingly, or out of vague attraction, or out of greed or vanity. Because we can’t say no—because we might miss out on something if we did. We think “yes” will let us accomplish more, when in reality it prevents exactly what we seek.
  • All of us waste precious life doing things we don’t like, to prove ourselves to people we don’t respect, and to get things we don’t want.
  • The farther you travel down that path of accomplishment, whatever it may be, the more often you meet other successful people who make you feel insignificant.
  • It doesn’t matter how well you’re doing; your ego and their accomplishments make you feel like nothing—just as others make them feel the same way. It’s a cycle that goes on ad infinitum . . . while our brief time on earth—or the small window of opportunity we have here—does not.
  • Let’s be clear: competitiveness is an important force in life. It’s what drives the market and is behind some of mankind’s most impressive accomplishments.
  • On an individual level, however, it’s absolutely critical that you know who you’re competing with and why, that you have a clear sense of the space you’re in.
  • we’re the only ones who can evaluate and set the terms of our lives. Far too often, we look at other people and make their approval the standard we feel compelled to meet, and as a result, squander our very potential and purpose.
  • It’s time to sit down and think about what’s truly important to you and then take steps to forsake the rest. Without this, success will not be pleasurable, or nearly as complete as it could be. Or worse, it won’t last.
  • This is especially true with money. If you don’t know how much you need, the default easily becomes: more.
  • When “you combine insecurity and ambition,” the plagiarist and disgraced journalist Jonah Lehrer said when reflecting back on his fall, “you get an inability to say no to things.”
  • Ego rejects trade-offs. Why compromise? Ego wants it all.
  • You need to know what you don’t want and what your choices preclude. Because strategies are often mutually exclusive. One cannot be an opera singer and a teen pop idol at the same time. Life requires those trade-offs, but ego can’t allow it.
  • So why do you do what you do? That’s the question you need to answer. Stare at it until you can. Only then will you understand what matters and what doesn’t.
  • Everyone buys into the myth that if only they had that—usually what someone else has—they would be happy. It may take getting burned a few times to realize the emptiness of this illusion.
 
 
ENTITLEMENT, CONTROL, AND PARANOIA
  • One of the symptoms of approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one’s work is terribly important. —BERTRAND RUSSELL
  • With success, particularly power, come some of the greatest and most dangerous delusions: entitlement, control, and paranoia.
  • What’s more likely, and more common, is we begin to overestimate our own power. Then we lose perspective.
  • The problem lies in the path that got us to success in the first place. What we’ve accomplished often required feats of raw power and force of will.
  • It doesn’t matter if you’re a billionaire, a millionaire, or just a kid who snagged a good job early. The complete and utter sense of certainty that got you here can become a liability if you’re not careful.
  • Ego is its own worst enemy. It hurts the ones we love too. Our families and friends suffer for it. So do our customers, fans, and clients.
  • Entitlement assumes: This is mine. I’ve earned it.
  • Control says, It all must be done my way—even little things, even inconsequential things.
  • Paranoia thinks, I can’t trust anyone. I’m in this totally by myself and for myself. It says, I’m surrounded by fools.
MANAGING YOURSELF
  • It is not enough to have great qualities; we should also have the management of them. —LA ROCHEFOUCAULD
  • Most of us are not the president, or even president of a company, but in moving up the ladder in life, the system and work habits that got us where we are won’t necessarily keep us there
  • Think about Eisenhower. He was the damn president—the most powerful man in the world. He could have kicked back and done things how he liked. If he was disorganized, people would have just had to deal with it (there have been plenty of those presidents before). Yet he wasn’t. He understood that order and responsibility were what the country needed. And that this far outweighed his own concerns
  • The little things are endlessly engaging and often flattering, while the big picture can be hard to discern. It’s not always fun, but it is the job. If you don’t think big picture—because you’re too busy playing “boss man”—who will?
  • What matters is that you learn how to manage yourself and others, before your industry eats you alive.
 
BEWARE THE DISEASE OF ME
  • If I am not for myself who will be for me? If I am only for myself, who am I? —HILLEL
  • World War II, While the other generals protected their turf, fought with each other, and eagerly aspired to their place in history, that behavior was virtually absent in one man: General George Marshall.
  • More impressively, Marshall quietly outpaced all of them with the magnitude of his accomplishments.
  • After a team starts to win and media attention begins, the simple bonds that joined the individuals together begin to fray. Players calculate their own importance. Chests swell. Frustrations emerge. Egos appear. The Innocent Climb, Pat Riley says, is almost always followed by the “Disease of Me.” It can “strike any winning team in any year and at any moment,” and does with alarming regularity.
  • Marshall somehow never caught the Disease of Me, and in many ways, often shamed it out of the people who did.
  • He was not a man who abstained from every public show of rank or status
  • Ego needs honors in order to be validated. Confidence, on the other hand, is able to wait and focus on the task at hand regardless of external recognition.
  • The decision is yours, Mr. President; my wishes have nothing to do with the matter.” The role and the glory went to Eisenhower.
  • Eisenhower was, in fact, the best man for that job. He performed superbly and helped win the war
  • our ego precludes serving any larger mission we’re a part of.
  • There is another story of Marshall sitting for one of the many official portraits that was required of him. After appearing many times and patiently honoring the requests, Marshall was finally informed by the painter that he was finished and free to go. Marshall stood up and began to leave. “Don’t you want to see the painting?” the artist asked. “No, thank you,” Marshall said respectfully and left.
  • Is that to say that managing your image isn’t important? Of course not. Early in your career, you’ll notice that you jump on every opportunity to do so. As you become more accomplished, you’ll realize that so much of it is a distraction from your work—time spent with reporters, with awards, and with marketing are time away from what you really care about.
  • Who has time to look at a picture of himself? What’s the point?
  • George Marshall had the same traits that everyone has—ego, self-interest, pride, dignity, ambition—but they were “tempered by a sense of humility and selflessness.”
  • There is a balance. Soccer coach Tony Adams expresses it well. Play for the name on the front of the jersey, he says, and they’ll remember the name on the back.
 
MEDITATE ON THE IMMENSITY
  • A monk is a man who is separated from all and who is in harmony with all. —EVAGRIUS PONTICUS
  • Who am I? What am I doing? What is my role in this world?
  • Nothing draws us away from those questions like material success
  • Ego tells us that meaning comes from activity, that being the center of attention is the only way to matter.
  • When we lack a connection to anything larger or bigger than us, it’s like a piece of our soul is gone.
  • Ego blocks us from the beauty and history in the world. It stands in the way.
  • Yes, we are small. We are also a piece of this great universe and a process.
  • Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you’re convinced the world revolves around you.
  • It’s hard to be anything but humble walking alone along a beach late at night with an endless black ocean crashing loudly against the ground next to you.
MAINTAIN YOUR SOBRIETY
  • The height of cultivation runs to simplicity. —BRUCE LEE
  • Angela Merkel is the antithesis of nearly every assumption we make about a head of state— especially a German one. She is plain. She is modest
  • She has no interest in expansion or domination. Mostly, she is quiet and reserved.
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel is sober, when far too many leaders are intoxicated—with ego, with power, with position.
  • The ego tells us we’re invincible, that we have unlimited force that will never dissipate. But that can’t be what greatness requires—energy without end?
  • Merkel is the embodiment of Aesop’s fable about the tortoise. She is slow and steady. The historic night the Berlin Wall fell, she was thirty-five. She had one beer, went to bed, and showed up early for work the next day.
  • A few years later, she had worked to become a respected but obscure physicist. Only then did she enter politics. In her fifties, she became chancellor.
  • Yet the rest of us want to get to the top as fast as humanly possible. We have no patience for waiting. We’re high on getting high up the ranks. Once we’ve made it, we tend to think that ego and energy is the only way to stay there. It’s not.
  • She did not become the most powerful woman in the Western world by accident. More importantly, she’s maintained her perch for three terms with the same formula.
  • This is why the Zen philosopher Zuigan is supposed to have called out to himself everyday: “MASTER—” “YES, SIR?” Then he would add: “BECOME SOBER.” “YES, SIR.” He would conclude by saying: “DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY OTHERS.” “YES SIR, YES SIR.” Today, we might add to that: “DON’T BE DECEIVED BY RECOGNITION YOU HAVE GOTTEN OR THE AMOUNT OF MONEY IN YOUR BANK ACCOUNT.”
  • We have to fight to stay sober
  • You can’t solve . . . tasks with charisma.
  • Sobriety is the counterweight that must balance out success. Especially if things keep getting better and better.
  • There’s an old line about how if you want to live happy, live hidden. It’s true. The problem is, that means the rest of us are deprived of really good examples. We’re lucky to see someone like Merkel in the public eye, because she is the representative of a very large, silent majority.
  • As hard as it might be to believe from what we see in the media, there actually are some successful people with modest apartments. Like Merkel, they have normal private lives with their spouses (her husband skipped her first inauguration). They lack artifice, they wear normal clothes. Most successful people are people you’ve never heard of. They want it that way. It keeps them sober. It helps them do their jobs.
FOR WHAT OFTEN COMES NEXT, EGO IS THE ENEMY . . .
  • The evidence is in, and you are the verdict. —ANNE LAMOTT
  • Endless ambition is easy; anyone can put their foot down hard on the gas. Complacency is easy too; it’s just a matter of taking that foot off the gas. We must avoid what the business strategist Jim Collins terms the “undisciplined pursuit of more,” as well as the complacency that comes with plaudits.
  • behind every goal is the drive to be happy and fulfilled—but when egotism takes hold, we lose track of our goal and end up somewhere we never intended.
  • Just because you did something once, doesn’t mean you’ll be able to do it successfully forever.
 
PART3: FAILURE
FAILURE
  • Failure and adversity are relative and unique to each of us
  • Almost without exception, this is what life does: it takes our plans and dashes them to pieces. Sometimes once, sometimes lots of times
  • If ego is often just a nasty side effect of great success, it can be fatal during failure.
  • Bill Walsh says, “Almost always, your road to victory goes through a place called ‘failure.’”
  • good people fail (or other people fail them) all the time too. People who have already been through a lot find themselves stuck with more. Life isn’t fair.
  • Ego loves this notion, the idea that something is “fair” or not. Psychologists call it narcissistic injury when we take personally totally indifferent and objective events.
  • Will your ego betray you when things get difficult? Or can you proceed without it?
  • When we face difficulty, particularly public difficulty (doubters, scandals, losses), our friend the ego will show its true colors.
  • Goethe once observed, the great failing is “to see yourself as more than you are and to value yourself at less than your true worth.”
  • Humble and strong people don’t have the same trouble with these troubles that egotists do.
  • Their identity isn’t threatened. They can get by without constant validation.
  • What matters is that we can respond to what life throws at us. And how we make it through.
ALIVE TIME OR DEAD TIME?
  • Vivre sans temps mort. (Live without wasted time.) —PARISIAN POLITICAL SLOGAN
  • According to Greene, there are two types of time in our lives: dead time, when people are passive and waiting, and alive time, when people are learning and acting and utilizing every second.
  • Every moment of failure, every moment or situation that we did not deliberately choose or control, presents this choice: Alive time. Dead time.
  • That’s what so many of us do when we fail or get ourselves into trouble. Lacking the ability to examine ourselves, we reinvest our energy into exactly the patterns of behavior that caused our problems to begin with.
  • But what if we said: This is an opportunity for me. I am using it for my purposes. I will not let this be dead time for me.
 
THE EFFORT IS ENOUGH
  • What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass should not bother him. —GOETHE
  • In life, there will be times when we do everything right, perhaps even perfectly. Yet the results will somehow be negative: failure, disrespect, jealousy, or even a resounding yawn from the world.
  • Depending on what motivates us, this response can be crushing. If ego holds sway, we’ll accept nothing less than full appreciation.
  • We have only minimal control over the rewards for our work and effort—other people’s validation, recognition, rewards. So what are we going to do? Not be kind, not work hard, not produce, because there is a chance it wouldn’t be reciprocated?
  • It’s far better when doing good work is sufficient
  • the less attached we are to outcomes the better. When fulfilling our own standards is what fills us with pride and self-respect. When the effort—not the results, good or bad—is enough.
  • With ego, this is not nearly sufficient. No, we need to be recognized. We need to be compensated.
  • There was an unusual encounter between Alexander the Great and the famous Cynic philosopher Diogenes. Allegedly, Alexander approached Diogenes, who was lying down, enjoying the summer air, and stood over him and asked what he, the most powerful man in the world, might be able to do for this notoriously poor man. Diogenes could have asked for anything. What he requested was epic: “Stop blocking my sun.”
  • Robert Louis Stevenson later observed “It is a sore thing to have labored along and scaled arduous hilltops, and when all is done, find humanity indifferent to your achievement.”
  • Well, get ready for it. It will happen. Maybe your parents will never be impressed. Maybe your girlfriend won’t care. Maybe the investor won’t see the numbers. Maybe the audience won’t clap.
  • But we have to be able to push through. We can’t let that be what motivates us.
  • John Wooden’s advice to his players says it: Change the definition of success. “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”
  • Do your work. Do it well. Then “let go and let God.“ That’s all there needs to be.
  • John Kennedy Toole’s great book A Confederacy of Dunces was universally turned down by publishers, news that so broke his heart that he later committed suicide in his car on an empty road in Biloxi, Mississippi. After his death, his mother discovered the book, advocated on its behalf until it was published, and it eventually won the Pulitzer Prize.
  • This is why we can’t let externals determine whether something was worth it or not. It’s on us.
  • The world is, after all, indifferent to what we humans “want.” If we persist in wanting, in needing, we are simply setting ourselves up for resentment or worse.
  • Doing the work is enough.
FIGHT CLUB MOMENTS
  • If you shut up truth and bury it under the ground, it will but grow, and gather to itself such explosive power that the day it bursts through it will blow up everything in its way. —EMILE ZOLA
  • There are many ways to hit bottom. Almost everyone does in their own way, at some point
  • Duris dura franguntur. Hard things are broken by hard things. The bigger the ego the harder the fall.
  • In fact, many significant life changes come from moments in which we are thoroughly demolished, in which everything we thought we knew about the world is rendered false. We might call these “Fight Club moments.”
  • It was in those moments—when the break exposes something unseen before—that you were forced to make eye contact with a thing called Truth. No longer could you hide or pretend.
  • A look at history finds that these events seem to be defined by three traits:
      1. They almost always came at the hands of some outside force or person.
      1. They often involved things we already knew about ourselves, but were too scared to admit.
      1. From the ruin came the opportunity for great progress and improvement.
  • Does everyone take advantage of that opportunity? Of course not. Ego often causes the crash and then blocks us from improving.
  • Hemingway had his own rock-bottom realizations as a young man. The understanding he took from them is expressed timelessly in his book A Farewell to Arms. He wrote, “The world breaks every one and afterward many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break it kills.”
  • The world can show you the truth, but no one can force you to accept it.
  • We’re so afraid to lose our own esteem or, God forbid, the esteem of others, that we contemplate doing terrible things.
  • Face the symptoms. Cure the disease. Ego makes it so hard—it’s easier to delay, to double down, to deliberately avoid seeing the changes we need to make in our lives
  • But change begins by hearing the criticism and the words of the people around you. Even if those words are mean spirited, angry, or hurtful
  • Vince Lombardi said this once: “A team, like men, must be brought to its knees before it can rise again.” So yes, hitting bottom is as brutal as it sounds. But the feeling after—it is one of the most powerful perspectives in the world.
DRAW THE LINE
  • It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character. —MARCUS AURELIUS
  • We take risks. We mess up. The problem is that when we get our identity tied up in our work, we worry that any kind of failure will then say something bad about us as a person.
  • Ego asks: Why is this happening to me? How do I save this and prove to everyone I’m as great as they think? It’s the animal fear of even the slightest sign of weakness.
  • Ego kills what we love. Sometimes, it comes close to killing us too.
  • You have to be able to see the bigger picture. But when ego is in control, who can?
  • Let’s say you’ve failed and let’s even say it was your fault. Shit happens and, as they say, sometimes shit happens in public. It’s not fun. The questions remain: Are you going to make it worse? Or are you going to emerge from this with your dignity and character intact? Are you going to live to fight another day?
  • Most trouble is temporary . . . unless you make that not so.
  • Only ego thinks embarrassment or failure are more than what they are. History is full of people who suffered abject humiliations yet recovered to have long and impressive careers.
  • Because you will lose in life. It’s a fact.
  • Ego says we’re the immovable object, the unstoppable force. This delusion causes the problems.
  • “He who fears death will never do anything worthy of a living man,” Seneca once said
  • Alter that: He who will do anything to avoid failure will almost certainly do something worthy of a failure.
  • The only real failure is abandoning your principles.
  • If your reputation can’t absorb a few blows, it wasn’t worth anything in the first place.
MAINTAIN YOUR OWN SCORECARD
  • I never look back, except to find out about mistakes . . . I only see danger in thinking back about things you are proud of. —ELISABETH NOELLE-NEUMANN
  • On April 16, 2000, the New England Patriots drafted an extra quarterback out of the University of Michigan.
  • The young quarterback’s name was Tom Brady
  • In terms of return on investment, it’s probably the single greatest draft pick in the history of football
  • So you’d think that the Patriots’ front office would be ecstatic with how it turned out, and indeed, they were.
  • They were also disappointed—deeply so—in themselves. Brady’s surprising abilities meant that the Patriots’ scouting reports were way off. For all their evaluations of players, they’d somehow missed or miscalculated all of his intangible attributes. They’d let this gem wait until the sixth round. Someone else could have drafted him.
  • More than that, they didn’t even know they were right about Brady until injuries knocked out Drew Bledsoe, their prized starter, and forced them to realize his potential.
  • Not that they were nit-picking. Or indulging in perfectionism. They had higher standards of performance to adhere to.
  • It was a reminder: You’re not as good as you think. You don’t have it all figured out. Stay focused. Do better.
  • This is characteristic of how great people think. It’s not that they find failure in every success. They just hold themselves to a standard that exceeds what society might consider to be objective success.
  • Because of that, they don’t much care what other people think; they care whether they meet their own standards. And these standards are much, much higher than everyone else’s.
  • The Patriots saw the Brady pick as being more lucky than smart. And though some people are fine giving themselves credit for luck, they weren’t.
  • This isn’t necessarily fun, by the way. It can feel like self-inflicted torture sometimes. But it does force you to always keep going, and always improve.
  • Ego can’t see both sides of the issue. It can’t get better because it only sees the validation.
  • Your potential, the absolute best you’re capable of—that’s the metric to measure yourself against.
  • People can get lucky and win. People can be assholes and win. Anyone can win. But not everyone is the best possible version of themselves.
  • There are two different occasions upon which we examine our own conduct, and endeavour to view it in the light in which the impartial spectator would view it: first, when we are about to act; and secondly, after we have acted. Our views are apt to be very partial in both cases; but they are apt to be most partial when it is of most importance that they should be otherwise. When we are about to act, the eagerness of passion will seldom allow us to consider what we are doing, with the candour of an indifferent person. . . . When the action is over, indeed, and the passions which prompted it have subsided, we can enter more coolly into the sentiments of the indifferent spectator.
  • This “indifferent spectator” is a sort of guide with which we can judge our behavior, as opposed to the groundless applause that society so often gives out.
  • Holding your ego against a standard (inner or indifferent or whatever you want to call it) makes it less and less likely that excess or wrongdoing is going to be tolerated by you.
  • Because it’s not about what you can get away with, it’s about what you should or shouldn’t do.
  • A person who judges himself based on his own standards doesn’t crave the spotlight the same way as someone who lets applause dictate success.
  • A person who can think long term doesn’t pity herself during shortterm setbacks.
  • A person who values the team can share credit and subsume his own interests in a way that most others can’t.
  • Reflecting on what went well or how amazing we are doesn’t get us anywhere
  • Ego blocks that
  • we’re inching our way toward real improvement, with discipline rather than disposition.
 
ALWAYS LOVE
  • And why should we feel anger at the world? As if the world would notice! —EURIPIDES
  • the paradox of hate and bitterness. It accomplishes almost exactly the opposite of what we hope it does.
  • In the Internet age, we call this the Streisand effect
  • Attempting to destroy something out of hate or ego often ensures that it will be preserved and disseminated forever.
  • You know what is a better response to an attack or a slight or something you don’t like? Love.
  • Because, as the song lyrics go, “hate will get you every time.”
  • You could at the very least try to let it go.
  • this is an incredibly difficult attitude to maintain. It’s far easier to hate. It’s natural to lash out.
  • Yet we find that what defines great leaders like Douglass is that instead of hating their enemies, they feel a sort of pity and empathy for them.
  • Take inventory for a second. What do you dislike? Whose name fills you with revulsion and rage? Now ask: Have these strong feelings really helped you accomplish anything?
  • Where has hatred and rage ever really gotten anyone?
  • The question we must ask for ourselves is: Are we going to be miserable just because other people are?
  • In failure or adversity, it’s so easy to hate. Hate defers blame. It makes someone else responsible. It’s a distraction too
  • we don’t do much else when we’re busy getting revenge or investigating the wrongs that have supposedly been done to us.
  • Meanwhile, love is right there. Egoless, open, positive, vulnerable, peaceful, and productive.
 
FOR EVERYTHING THAT COMES NEXT, EGO IS THE ENEMY . . .
  • I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work—the chance to find yourself. —JOSEPH CONRAD
  • There is no way around it: We will experience difficulty. We will feel the touch of failure.
  • the old Celtic saying tells us, “See much, study much, suffer much, that is the path to wisdom.”
  • Aspiration leads to success (and adversity). Success creates its own adversity (and, hopefully, new ambitions). And adversity leads to aspiration and more success. It’s an endless loop
  • mantra to guide us, so that we can survive and thrive in every phase of our journey. It is simple (though, as always, never easy).
  • Not to aspire or seek out of ego. To have success without ego.
    • To push through failure with strength, not ego.
 
 
EPILOGUE
  • 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.
  • There’s a quote from Bismarck that says, in effect, any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other people’s experience.
  • what is most obvious but most ignored is that perfecting the personal regularly leads to success as a professional, but rarely the other way around.
  • What is left? Your choices
  • Every day for the rest of your life you will find yourself at one of three phases: aspiration, success, failure. You will battle the ego in each of them. You will make mistakes in each of them.
  • You must sweep the floor every minute of every day. And then sweep again.
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY
  • Chernow, Ron. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. New York: Vintage, 2004
  • Cray, Ed. General of the Army: George C. Marshall, Soldier and Statesman. New York: Cooper Square, 2000.
  • Malcolm X, and Alex Haley. The Autobiography of Malcolm X. New York: Ballantine, 1992.
  • Marcus Aurelius, trans. Gregory Hays. Meditations. New York: Modern Library, 2002
  • Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words. Directed by Peter W. Kunhardt. HBO documentary, 2014
  • Shamrock, Frank. Uncaged: My Life as a Champion MMA Fighter. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2012.
  • Smith, Jean Edward. Eisenhower: In War and Peace. New York: Random House, 2012.
  • Walsh, Bill. The Score Takes Care of Itself: My Philosophy of Leadership. New York: Portfolio / Penguin, 2009.
 
Disclaimer: I don't always agree with the content of the book, the purpose of sharing my highlights is to help you decide whether to buy the book or not.
;