Ego is the Enemy

Intro

  • Clinical definition of ego - an unhealthy belief in our own importance. Arrogance or self centered ambition. 
    • Marina Abramovic, “if you start believing in your own importance, it is the death of your creativity”
  • This book will help us be
    • Humble in aspirations
    • Gracious in success
    • Resilient in failures

Aspire

  • Talk talk talk
    • Your belief in yourself must be dependent on actual achievement, not ego
    • Entitlement. The idea that you can do whatever you put your mind to makes us weak. 
    • Self awareness. Evaluating your own ability is the most important skill of all.
    • Silence: scarce, rare, strong. Never give reasons for what you think or do until you must. 
      • Talking depletes you. Talking and taking action fight for the same resources. 
      • Work quietly in the corner and ignore the impulse to seek recognition before taking action
  • To be or to do
    • Doing the right thing is always the right thing
  • Become a student
    • Lead guitarist for Metallica sought out a music teacher to strengthen his fundamentals.
    • The power of being a student is not just in an extended period of instruction, it also places the ego and ambition in someone else’s hands. 
    • Frank Shamrock system of plus, minus, and equal.
      • To become great you need to learn from someone better than you, teach someone not as good as you , and identify an equal to challenge you. 
    • Students are like sponges. Absorb, filter, latch on. Self critical and self motivated. No room for ego there. 
      • Epictetus says, “you cannot learn if you think you already know”
  • Don’t be passionate
    • Caring vs Passion. Passion is like unbridled enthusiasm. Pouncing on what’s in front of you with all your energy and weight. 
    • Dispassionate. Apathetic. Doesn’t mean you dont care. There’s just less entertainment value. 
    • Passion paradox - constantly busy but never accomplish anything. The best years of your life spent spinning tires going nowhere. 
    • Purpose vs passion. “I am passionate about…” Vs. “i must do…”
      • Passion is form over function, or tactics. Purpose is just function. 
  • Canvas strategy - Bill Belichick excels as a coach by embracing parts of the job other coaches usually hated. 
    • Anteambulo - one who clears the path. 
    • Not about making someone look good. It’s about allowing someone else to be good. Clear the path for the people above you. In doing so, you will have cleared a path for yourself. 
    • To be a rising star without threatening or alienating anyone, provide feedback to your supervisors in private and pose it as a question you’re unsure of. 
    • Say little, Do much. Be less, Do more. When you meet someone, help them in a way that has nothing to do with you. Deposit favors in your bank account. 
    • Help yourself by helping others.
  • Restrain yourself 
    • Jackie Robinson was given the chance to be the first black player in the MLB because he promised he could suppress his ego. Not fight back against racial slurs. 
  • Get out of your own head
    • Plato spoke of the type of people who are guilty of “feasting on their own thoughts”. It was common to find people who “instead of finding out how something they desire might actually come about, they pass that over, so as to avoid tiring deliberations about what’s possible. They assume that what they desire is available and proceed to arrange the rest, taking pleasure in thinking through everything they’ll do when they have what they want, thereby making their lazy souls even lazier. 
    • Its natural for an ambitious youth to get excited and swept up by their thoughts. Like a teenager sitting in front of a mirror perfecting their look for hours before heading to get groceries with mom. Or when you’re walking down the street with headphones and you think the world is conforming to your beat. 
  • The danger of early pride
    • Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. 
    • Rockefeller told himself every night, “go steady. Look out or you will lose your head”
    • Genghis khan taught his sons pride would be harder to tame than a lion. 
    • We tend to be on guard against negative people. What we don’t protect ourselves against, but should, is people that inflate our egos. Prepare for pride and kill it early. Or it will kill what you aspire to. 
  • Work work work
    • The distinction between a professional and a dilettante is when you accept that having an idea is not enough, you must work until you are able to recreate the tangible experience. 
      • Henry ford, “you can’t build a reputation on what you’re going to do”
    • Do it if you’re going to do it. Workmanship is better than the material. 
    • Fake it til you make it only works for losers. Imagine a doctor, quarterback, or CEO trying to fake it. They’ll be exposed quickly. 
  • Ego is the enemy
    • Taste/talent gap: your taste may lead you to attempt creative work. But your youth makes your output seem untalented. It is in this gap, that ego can seem comforting. You can cover up your shortcomings or you can put the time in to actually get better. 
    • Ego is the wicked sister of success.

Success

  • Succes
    • Howard Hughes was an egomaniac that left Houston, where his father’s business operated, for Los Angeles to make movies that busted, trade millions of dollars worth of stock from his bed-side, evade taxes, do drugs, destroy relationships and so much more. 
    • Egotism has the same roots as alcoholism: insecurity, fear, a dislike for brutal objectivity.
    • “Man is pushed by drives, and pulled by values” Victor Frankl
  • Always stay a student
    • Genghis Khan was one of the greatest military minds of all time because of his ability to learn from the technology and culture of every empire he captured. 
      • He was not a genius. Instead, he exercised a persistent circle of pragmatic learning. 
    • You can tell someone is truly humble when they are seemingly at the top of their field, but continue to consistently ask questions, learn, and improve. 
      • Deliberately put yourself in a room full of people smarter than you. Read books on topics you know nothing about. 
  • Dont tell yourself a story
    • Bill Walsh turned the SF 49ers into Superbowl Champions after 2 losing seasons. He focused on a “standard of performance”. What should be done. How it should be done. And when. 
      • He had no expectation of winning a Superbowl, let alone in three short seasons.
    • Crafting stories out of past events is a human impulse. It’s dangerous, untrue, and often leads to arrogance. “I knew it would work”, “failure was not an option” 
      • The team suffered losing seasons the following two. 
      • Then went back to executing standard of performance and had 10 winning seasons in a row
    • Paul Graham, “keep your identity small” make it about the work and principles behind it, not the headlines that may come later. 
  • What’s important to you?
    • After winning the battle for the Union, Ulysses S. Grant won the Presidency in a landslide, yet had no political background at all. After two corrupt, terrible terms, he started a financial firm and was bankrupted by his partner. He lost everything because he always wanted more. His ego led him to waste his life doing things he didn’t really want to, to prove himself to people he didn’t respect, to get things he didn’t really want. 
    • Euthymia: Greek word for realizing our own path and how to stay on it without getting distracted by all the others that intersect it. 
      • Translates to tranquility in english
    • Why do you do what you do? The only question that matters
  • Entitlement, control, and paranoia
    • Accomplishment can be dangerous. You begin to overestimate your power. Then lose perspective. Xerxes wrote letters to mountains before building tunnels and cursed the sea before building bridges. 
    • A smart mind must regularly remind itself of the limits of its power and reach. Entitlement assumes this is mine, I’ve earned it, and nickel and dimes others because it can’t fathom their worth being as high as its own. 
    • Control says all things, big and small, must be done my way. Perfectionism is exhausting. You fight with the clerk over a cancelled flight when you’re well aware neither of you control the weather. 
    • Paranoia prevents you from establishing trust. You feel like your in it for yourself by yourself. Looking out for number one is a mask for weakness, insecurity, and instability. 
  • Managing yourself 
    • If you cannot manage yourself, you cannot manage others. 
    • As you become more successful, your day shifts from “doing” to “deciding.” 
      • Micro managing the small things is easy, engaging, and flattering. 
      • Delegating, trusting, and thinking big picture is difficult. 
      • Increase your clarity and purpose, set goals and priorities, then enforce them. 
  • Beware the disease of me
    • Ego needs honors to be validated. Confidence can wait and focus on the task at hand regardless of external recognition. 
    • Once you make it, you constantly look for “getting what’s mine”. 
      • You never earn the right to be greedy or pursue an interest at the expense of others
    • Pat Riley says young teams start with a phase called “the innocent climb”. As soon as they taste success, the “importance of me” can tear it apart. Shaq and Kobe. Kyrie and Lebron. KD & Steph/Klay/Dray. Etc. 
      • If you play for the name on the front of the jersey, they will remember the name on the back.
    • “When you're good at something, you'll tell everyone. When you're great at something, they'll tell you.” - Walter Payton
  • Meditate on the immensity
    • Sympatheia: a connectedness with the cosmos. 
      • When we lack a connection to anything larger than us, it’s like a piece of our soul is gone. Ego blocks us from the beauty and history of the world. 
    • Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you think the world revolves around you. 
    • Reconcile yourself with the realities of life. Realize how much came before you and how much will come after you. Let that feeling carry you. 
  • Maintain your sobriety
    • Don’t be deceived by recognition or money
    • You can't solve a problem with charisma
    • If you want to live happy, live hidden. 
    • Sobriety is the counterweight to success, especially when things get better and better
  • For what comes next, ego is the enemy
    • Aristotle's “golden mean” is the middle ground
    • Virtue and excellence are points along a spectrum. 
      • Courage lies between cowardice and recklessness
      • Achievement lies between endless ambition and complacency 

Failure

  • Failure
    • Failure and adversity are relatively unique to each of us. 
    • Ego loves the notion that life isn't fair. 
      • Narcissistic injury - when we take personally totally indifferent and objective events. This occurs when your sense of self is fragile and dependent on life going your way all the time. 
      • The narcissistically inclined live in a city without walls. Fragile sense of self is constantly under threat. 
      • If you are offended easily, you should be offended more often. 
    • The great failing, as described by Goethe, “seeing yourself for more than you are, and to value yourself at less than your true worth”
  • Alive Time Vs. Dead Time: concept popularized by Robert Greene
    • Dead time: when you are passive and waiting
      • “Cast down your buckets where you are, make use of what’s around you, don’t let stubbornness make a bad situation worse” Booker T Washington
    • Alive time: when you are learning, acting, and utilizing
  • The effort is enough - favorite chapter
    • In life, there will be times when we do everything right. Yet the result will somehow be negative. If ego holds the way, well be crushed and accept nothing less than full appreciation. 
    • Doing the right thing is always the right thing. 
    • Do you work hard on something that can be taken away from you? Will you put in time and energy even if the outcome is not guaranteed? 
      • If not, how do you plan to endure tough times?
      • The less attached you are to the outcomes the better. Fulfilling your own standard is what should fill you with pride. 
        • Ego requires compensation, recognition. If you get it once, you expect it always. 
    • John Wooden on 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. 
    • Marcus Aurelius 
      • Ambition: tying your well being to what other people say or do
      • Sanity: tying your well being to your own actions
  • Fight club moments
    • We cannot be humble without experiencing humiliation - reverend william a sutton
    • The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong at the broken places, those who do not break are killed - hemingway
      • The world can show you truth, but no one can force you to accept it
    • Fight club moments - an event that demolishes you. An event in which everything you thought you knew about the world is rendered false. 
      • 1. Almost always come at the hands of an outside person or force. 
      • 2. Often involve things we already knew about ourselves but are too scared to admit. 
      • 3. From the ruin, comes a great opportunity for progress and improvement. 
    • Face the symptoms, cure the disease. Ego makes this so hard. It’s easier to delay, double down, or deliberately avoid making any change. 
  • Draw the line - “It can ruin your life only if it ruins your character.”, Marcus Aurelius
    • People make mistakes all the time. The problem is tying your identity to the failure. Worrying that people will think you’re a bad person for failing. 
    • Ego asks: why is this happening to me? How do i save this and prove to everyone im as great as they think? 
    • Only ego thinks failure and embarrassment are more than they actually are. 
    • Killing what you love because you can’t bear to part from it is selfish and stupid. If your reputation can’t absorb a few blows, it wasn’t worth anything to begin with. 
    • Alexander Graham Bell wrote in a letter to a friend, “act with fortitude and honor. If you cannot reasonably hope for a favorable extrication, do not plunge deeper. Have the courage to make a full stop.”
  • Maintain your own scorecard
    • Great people hold themselves to a standard that exceeds what society might consider to be objective success
      • Bo Jackson wasn’t happy with base hits
      • The team that drafted Tom Brady wasn’t happy they let him sit until the 6th round
    • Hold yourself accountable to being the best possible version of yourself. 
  • Always love
    • Hate and bitterness accomplishes almost the exact opposite of what we hope it does.
    • Lashing out is a natural response. That is why love, in all situations, prevails. 
    • Instead of hating your enemies, show them empathy.
    • In failure or adversity it’s so easy to hate. Hate defers to blame. It makes someone else responsible. It’s also a distraction. Nothing gets done when you’re busy getting revenge. 
  • Final chapter
    • People learn from their failures, not their successes. 
      • See much, study much, suffer much, that is the path to wisdom
    • Any fool can learn from experience. The trick is to learn from other peoples experience.

Sunny Shakhawala

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