Ego is the Enemy

I recently read a fantastic book called ‘ego is the enemy’ by an ex PR guy called Ryan Holiday. It really did open my mind, made a lot of common sense and got me thinking about how much this word ‘ego’ plays a large part of life.

Whether it is nature or nurture, the issue stems from the fact that we are taught from a young age to be competitive and to not make mistakes or be punished (see what we thought about mistakes in a previous article Mistakes Are The Key To Improvement). This creates defensiveness. The world is also looking for perfection more than ever before. If you skim through social media, any tiny imperfection (coffee cup in Game of Thrones anyone?) is blown out of all proportion.

Defensiveness leads to ego getting in the way and clouding judgements. Ego tells everyone that you are in control, even when you’re not. Ego says that I am the teacher and you are all the students. Ego is powerful, egoless is weak.

Let’s just flip that around for a second. How about you didn’t ever have to prove yourself? How about if you continually learnt? Always having time for others, being conscientious and generally living with humility. Can you see yourself with a life like that?

In the book when it comes to failure it explains it very simply, ‘..you will be unappreciated. You will be sabotaged. You will experience surprising failures. Your expectations will not be met. You will lose. You will fail.’ So if this is just a fundamental truth why aren’t more people open to it happening and just taking it on board and moving forward.

Self-satisfaction should be enough for you to move onto the next success. All of our most successful employees have been the sponge, willing to listen and learn whatever age, background or experience and absorb it into their armoury. However, on the flip side, some have found it more difficult. They wanted to be the ‘know-it-all’, which is fine. However when you stop learning and being a student then how can you ever improve and learn?

He who welcomes empty fears earns himself real fears. Some of the greatest people I have ever met are the ones that should have the biggest egos imaginable, however, forgoe that in favour of taking on each new experience with a fresh breath of air, asking more about you than themselves and wanting to listen.

So in summary 5 elements that are really important to lead an egoless life are:

Always be a student
Forget placing material success over doing what you think is right
Be there for others
Listen, listen and then listen again
Never be defensive and always be accountable.

By Gavin O’Brien