“It’s good to think big…we must learn to live small, though. Be action and education focused, ignoring validation and status in order to keep our ego in check.” Ryan Holiday is a highly successful millennial that learned some heavy duty lessons that resulted in his newest book, Ego is the Enemy. I can’t remember reading a book by a 29-year old that had as much depth of wisdom and understanding.
With statements like, “When you talk, make sure you have earned it first” makes you pause and sit up straight. At the heart of his work is not letting your confidence get ahead of your competence. This is the book that I grabbed the idea from that you don’t want to experience an expectation hangover.
To capture the 5 biggest concepts from the book, watch this short video (12:40) by Brian Johnson in his Philosopher’s Notes. Brian also did an interview (41:14) with the author that I found enlightening.
Here’s a short summary of the book that condenses each chapter into a few pages. Many leadership and other non-fiction books have these short summaries now available on Amazon.
Here are some notable conclusions he establishes just from the the first 3 chapters. This book is really worth reading.
- True belief in yourself should be dependent on what you achieve and accomplish through hard work, discipline, and persistence. That kind of flies in the face of some other popular concepts, doesn’t it? The idea that we build belief, slowly, over time, may be radical to some.
- An important skill for us is the ability to realistically evaluate our own abilities. It would be hard to realistically evaluate yourself without some measurement that can be verified in some way. To measure data points, when it comes to our abilities, is something athletes can easily. Leaders, on the other hand, would need to focus on deliverables that can be quantified and tracked over time to determine their skill level at engaging and inspiring a workplace to their maximum contribution level in their organizations and in the marketplace they serve.
- Aim to focus on the long-term. With the necessity that leaders feel to create quarterly dividends for stockholders, immediate innovation to remain competitive, and the shifting workforce conditions when it comes to skilled workers, it would seem that it’s getting harder and harder for the focus to be 10 years from now. The entire book makes a strong case for why is vital to keep your eyes set on what can not yet be seen or realized.
- Ego has the tendency to delete what actually matters and replace it with the irrelevant. This is why in Time Mastery we focus on setting in place non-negotiables on your calendar first. The urgent and important will always be more satisfying than the not urgent but really important. The feeling of checking something off a list that was on fire at work is much more immediately satisfying than slowing down to fully explain to a team member why a process works like it does so they can do it themselves next time.
- There is no short-cut to an education; it takes persistence and hard work. Seeing yourself as a student of your work, of your industry, in your life, sets in motion a process of continual learning that allows you stay curious and remain focused on the long-term effects of your behaviors and the actions you take. “Being a student,” Ryan says, “allows you to accept that others are better than you and breaks down the illusions.”
“The ego will try and avoid negative feedback or criticism which prevents you from reaching your potential. Ego is disconnected from reality, giving us false feedback by making us believe we do not need to improve and blocking our progress”.
Coach Yourself This Week: Create time this week to spend a few minutes to ask your boss, a board member, your partner, or whoever helps hold you accountable at work, the following questions.
What one action can I stop or start doing that you think will improve my performance at work?
What is something I could be focused on learning that would help me improve a skill I need to improve?