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Ego is the Enemy Summary

Here’s the Ego is the Enemy summary. Realize that our egos hold us back when we learn and cultivate our talent. Learn how to raise the battle against ego for your own good.


Ego is the Enemy author Ryan Holiday explains that ego is what impedes us from living a successful life in the outside world. Ego also holds us back in both failure and success.

When we taste success, our ego blinds us from our faults. When we experience failure, our ego makes recovery harder. Your ego is actually your worst enemy. Learn how to fight it and stop it from controlling you.

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is a media strategist and writer who also wrote The Obstacle is the Way. At 19, he dropped out of college and apprenticed under Robert Greene (the author of The 48 Laws of Power).

He has worked with American Apparel, Google, and other known companies. His works have been read by TV personalities, world-class athletes, political leaders, and other known figures.

Main takeaways: Ego is the Enemy Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Our ego is our worst enemy.
  2. Ego stops you from doing good work.
  3. Purpose and endless curiosity are your allies.

Our ego is our worst enemy

No matter what stage of life we’re in, ego is always our worst enemy. When we’re experiencing failure, our ego stops us from learning from our mistakes. We blame others so we can’t place the blame on ourselves. We think that we don’t mistakes. It’s always “them.”

The result is we don’t learn from that failure. It also leads to slower recovery. We also magnify the failure because we’re feeling that it’s all outside of our control. We stay in that state because of our ego.

Our ego also takes advantage of our success. We feel we’re invincible whenever we accomplish something. But the result is often we forget to look at our faults. Those faults if neglected tend to become bigger problems.

Instead of learning everything we can from that success, we speak and act rashly. We fail to extract the lessons and determine the little faults that could have gone wrong. Because of that, our ego will lead us to failure after some time.

In other words, our ego impedes our learning. It stops us from reaching our own potential. It prevents us from achieving more success. It also stops us from recovering from our failures.

Ego stops you from doing good work

This is another result of letting our ego control our actions. We mentioned earlier that ego takes advantage both of our success and failure. In the former, it prevents us from getting more success. In the latter, ego prevents us from recovering.

The natural result is that we stop working. Instead of improving our craft, we get paralyzed. We let our ego control us. Instead of further polishing our work, our success blinded us from our faults. Instead of adjusting course, our failures made us blame others.

We won’t be able to do any good work with that attitude. Instead, we’ll be busy complaining and blaming others. We always try to protect our ego. We feel invincible when we achieve success. We attribute that success to all of our own efforts. The ego feels good with that setup.

We also try to protect our ego when we experience failure. We often don’t want to acknowledge that it’s our fault. We don’t want to feel incompetent or unintelligent because of the failure. The result is that we blame other people, the government, and other things. It feels much easier that way.

Purpose and endless curiosity are your allies

What is the solution then? Have a purpose. If you have it, you will have something that is higher than your ego. The result is you will pay more attention to that purpose.

You will set aside your ego when you make decisions. The purpose becomes the priority. It also gives you a direction and some level of certainty. Whenever you have doubts, that purpose will get you back on track. You won’t be thinking about your ego much that way.

An endless curiosity will also help you battle your ego. An endless curiosity or a learning mindset will open you to opportunities. You will acknowledge that you don’t know it all. You’ll realize that there’s always something new to learn.

With that mindset, you’ll be open to suggestions and new concepts. You’ll also have an open mind whether you experience success or failure. You’ll extract the lessons from your success and try to figure out the things that could have gone wrong. You also learn from failure by acknowledging your mistakes and formulating strategies for the next time it will happen.

There you have it. First, acknowledge that the ego is the enemy. It stops us from recovering from our failures and achieving more success. With purpose and endless curiosity, we can fight it and live a better life.

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