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This post is part of my “Guidelines” series where I analyse memorable book quotes and examine how to apply them in real life.
What does it mean?
This is very humbling quote by one of my favourite authors, Ryan Holiday. The primary argument here is that one of the biggest obstacles to our success and one of our greatest enemies to success is your ego.
For example, when you set a new goal, your ego often gets in the way of you actually achieving that goal. We tend to talk ourselves up, tell our friends and family how good we are and pretend like we’re already successful. In an attempt to show off, all this hot air get’s in the way of the actual work and execution.
“Doing great work is a struggle. It’s draining, it’s demoralizing, it’s frightening—not always, but it can feel that way when we’re deep in the middle of it. We talk to fill the void and the uncertainty.”
Then, when we achieve our goals, our ego often prevents us from sustaining this success. We feel that because we have “made it” we can stop learning, stop listening and we get comfortable with the status quo.
“Why is success so ephemeral? Ego shortens it. Whether a collapse is dramatic or a slow erosion, it’s always possible and often unnecessary. We stop learning, we stop listening, and we lose our grasp on what matters. We become victims of ourselves and the competition.”
Stop and consider – how often do you think about how to make yourself look better?
- Our social media accounts are a carefully crafted filter of the best part's of our lives.
- Have you ever been talking to someone and instead of listening, you're already thinking about the next thing you want to say? (I know I have)
- Every day we wake up and think about our goals and priorities. When was the last time you woke up to put someone else and their need's 100% ahead of your own?
This idea that how we perceive ourselves reminds me of something Hal Elrod says in his best-selling book, The Miracle Morning:
“We have an internal dialogue with ourselves the whole time and often talk ourselves down. The good news is that our programming can be changed or improved at any time. We can reprogram ourselves to overcome all of our fears, insecurities, bad habits, and any self-limiting, potential-destroying beliefs and behaviors we currently have, so we can become as successful as we want to be, in any area of our lives we choose.”
This quote highlights just how important our “self-talk” really is but more importantly, that we can “reprogram” ourselves, change our self-talk and use it to our advantage.
To overcome this obsession with boosting our ego’s, Ryan Holiday give’s us a few crucial bits of advice:
- Stop talking and start doing. Focus on execution and let the results speak for themselves.
- Play the role of a “student” and always be learning.
- Don’t let your ego by the driving force behind your decision making.
- Use the “canvas strategy” and focus on making other people look good (the indirect benefits that get paid back are often much greater than if you only focus on yourself).
- Be objective and remove yourself from the situation. Don’t let your emotions control your decisions.
- Use affirmations and positive self talk to improve your self-confidence.