ego is the enemy

40 Powerful Quotes from Ego is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday

Last Updated on February 4, 2024 by The Unbounded Thinker

Ryan Holiday’s, Ego is the Enemy, is a wonderful book that teaches the importance of humility on the journey to success. It helps readers understand the negative effects of the ego, and the importance of focusing on the long-term.

In the book, Ryan Holiday shows you that ego is the enemy mainly because it causes an unreasonable sense of importance and prevents success. He also helps you conquer this enemy – the ego – by showing you that you can direct it.

Additionally, Ryan Holiday discusses the importance of embracing humility by learning to be students. Being a student, according to him, “places the ego and ambition in someone else’s hands”, allowing us to know better than our teacher.

Ryan’s book helps us avoid an inflated sense of self by enlightening us that we will experience poor treatment regardless of our talents, connections, and achievements. It encourages us to ignore all forms of disrespect because focusing on them makes them distractions that will prevent us from doing our best.

I fell in love with the book and noted down the following powerful quotes.

Ego is the Enemy Quotes

  1. ‘Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you; your ego.’
  2. ‘The ego we see most commonly goes by a more casual definition: an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance. Self-centered ambition.’
  3. ‘Ego is when the notion of ourselves and the world grows so inflated that it begins to distort the reality that surrounds us.’
  4. ‘The performance artist Marina Abramovic puts it directly; “If you start believing in your greatness, it’s the death of your creativity.”
  5. ‘What is rare is not raw talent, skill, or even confidence, but humility, diligence, and self-awareness.’
  6. ‘We will learn that though we think big, we must act and live small in order to accomplish what we seek.’
  7. ‘Although we share with many others a vision for greatness, we understand that our path toward it is very different from theirs.’
  8. ‘Almost universally, the kind of performance we give on social media is positive. It’s more “Let me tell you how well things are going. Look how great I am” It’s rarely the truth: I’m scared, I’m struggling. I don’t know.”
  9. ‘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 strong.’
  10. ‘Doing great work is a struggle. It’s draining, it’s demoralizing, it’s firefighting – not always, but it can feel that way when we’re deep in the middle of it.’
  11. ‘The only relationship between work and chatter/talk is that one kills the other.’
  12. ‘Being promoted doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing good work and it doesn’t mean you are worthy of promotion (they call it failing upward in such bureaucracies).’
  13. ‘This is what the ego does. It crosses out what matters and replaces it with what doesn’t.’
  14. ‘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.’
  15. “It is impossible to learn that which one thinks one already knows,” Epictetus says. “You can’t learn if you think you already know.”
  16. ‘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 (wrongly seeing it as a weakness), and assumes that we’re good enough to give our talents a go in the world.’
  17. ‘Clear the path for the people above you and you will eventually create a path for yourself.’
  18. ‘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.’
  19. ‘More than purpose, we also need realism. Where do we start? What do we do first? What do we do right now? How are we sure that what we’re doing is moving us forward? What are we benchmarking ourselves against?’
  20. ‘Those who have subdued their ego understand that it doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.’
  21. ‘You need only to care about your career to understand that pride – even in real accomplishments- is a distraction and a deluder.’
  22. ‘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.’
  23. ‘Pride takes a minor accomplishment and makes it feel like a major one.’
  24. ‘Benjamin Franklin spent a lifetime battling against his pride, because he understood that pride would make it much harder.’
  25. ‘Ego is a wicked sister of success.’
  26. ‘What is truly ambitious is to face life and proceed with quiet confidence in spite of the distractions.’
  27. ‘No matter what you have done up to this point, you better still be a student. If you’re not still learning, you’re already dying.’
  28. ‘It’s not enough only to be a student at the beginning. It is a position that one has to assume for life. Learn from everyone and everything. From the people you beat, and the people who beat you, from the people you dislike, even from supposed enemies.’
  29. ‘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.’
  30. ‘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.’
  31. ‘Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you’re convinced the world revolves around you.’
  32. ‘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.’
  33. ‘Do your work. Do it well. Then “let go and let God.” That’s all there needs to be.’
  34. ‘Most trouble is temporary, unless you make that not so.’
  35. ‘A person who judges himself based on his standards doesn’t crave the spotlight the same way as someone who lets applause dictate success.’
  36. ‘A person who can think in the long term doesn’t pity herself during short-term setbacks.’
  37. ‘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.’
  38.  ‘All great men and women went through difficulties to get to where they are, all of them made mistakes. They found within those experiences some benefit – even if it was simply the realization that they were not infallible and that things would not always go their way. They found that self-awareness was the way out and through – if they hadn’t, they wouldn’t have gotten better and they wouldn’t have been able to rise again.’
  39. ‘When we lack a connection to anything larger or bigger than us, it’s like a piece of our soul is gone.’
  40. ‘Instead of letting power make us delusional and instead of taking what we have for granted, we’d be better to spend our time preparing for the shifts of fate that inevitably occur in life. That is, adversity, difficulty, and failure.’

I believed you loved Ego is the Enemy quotes and you now know that your greatest enemy is within you. Your actions, thoughts, and attitudes determine whether this enemy will become weaker or stronger. You, therefore, have the power to prevent ‘him’ from impeding your progress.


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