Ego Is The Enemy Summary – Ryan Holiday’s Best Book

Ryan Holiday’s Ego is The Enemy descriptively discusses introspection, self-motivation, and psychology. This book explores how negative your ego can be, and different ways to overcome tough situations by handling your ego in a sensible way. You will be encouraged to take a different approach to your life once you have finished reading it.

Ego Is The Enemy summary

Ego Is The Enemy Summary - A Ryan Holiday Book

In Ego Is The Enemy Holiday tries to convey through that the focus is on ego and its negative impact on your life. It describes how you are unhealthily feeding off giving importance to yourself. Add to it the color of culture, and you are already puffing off a boosted ego.

You perceive relations that don’t exist and presuppose various symptoms associated with success to be an actual success. This can be confusing as it mixes up the cause and the by-product. However, you don’t need to feed your ego repeatedly, instead, power it down with proper management and direction.

What you eventually learn from Holiday’s this book is to be steadfast instead of passionate. Taking John Wood’s example, who coached NBA champion, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Holiday points out that Kareem observed his coach being emotionless. This is quite contrary to the stereotyped passionate coaches. But John Wood disagreed saying that it (passion or emotion) would adversely affect his job.

Passion, Holiday opines, to be a distraction that prevents you from achieving success in life. He, instead wants you to have a purpose in life which you must work upon. Holiday also talks about how you should try to be a learner (student) so that you can reject the notion that you know everything already.

Finally, the author asks you to get over your pride and become more humble in order to achieve accomplishments, rather than get stuck in life.

Main ideas from Ego Is The Enemy summarized

Here are the 3 main ideas that summarize Ego Is The Enemy in a nutshell:

You cannot work with aspiration alone

While you have talent in you, it is crucial you decide if your talent will help you succeed or will you allow it to destroy yourself. Detaching yourself from your mind will help you see things clearly.

Making silence your friend will not weaken you but will strengthen your ability to make better, improved choices that are unaffected by your ego.

Holiday is of the opinion that instead of simply talking about stuff you need to get out there and act. But you need to decide whether you want to accomplish something or become someone in life through your actions.

You will only feed your ego by working to become someone. Your ego will keep you from making improvements. This is because it only gives destructive feedback in which you will know that you don’t need improvement. Ego will assure you that you are already the best at what you do.

When the ego is checked you will succeed

Smaller successes start making you believe that you are already someone great. In turn, you are kept from challenging yourself to go further.

There are endless examples of how great leaders have fallen prey to their own egos. Holiday warns that you need to check yourself by reconnecting with the environment around you.

Stay in touch with your fundamentals, like the sky over your head or the trees around you to feel the connection you have to the primary essentials of life.

Accept Failure

You need to accept that success is not everlasting. Transformation is constant in everyone’s life, which can lead to failure. If you are immature you will get defensive and start blaming others for your failure.

As a professional, you will make failure a learning experience. You will submit yourself to being humbled and challenged over and over again in life. Processing failure and learning from it can help you defeat your ego.

You need to stop allowing ego to make failure the cause of your breakdown. Holiday further categorizes failure into dead and alive time. Dead time makes you play the blame game, where you give in to your ego and give up after a failure. Alive time, on the contrary, helps you grow through learning from failure, making you humble, and defeating your ego.

Holiday observes that great individuals do not limit themselves to the objective success described by society. This mentality of such great individuals keeps them from being affected by what others opine about them. All they are concerned about is how well they meet their internally set standards.

Similarly, you need to be your own competition. You need to set your own standards and work towards meeting those standards. Simply winning will not help you in life, you have to strive to become the best version of who you are.

Aspiration causes you to be successful, while success initiates adversity inside of you (with probable newer ambitions). Eventually, adversity gives way to aspiration to create success again. This becomes an endless cycle.

Who should read vs. who shouldn’t read Ego Is The Enemy

From the summary of Ego Is The Enemy, it is clear that this book is aimed at anyone who aims to find true success in life. Young individuals, in general, will benefit from this book. But it is helpful for adults or even aging individuals who are struggling with their life goals.

If you have a younger family member who is on building a corporate career, or someone close to you is working their way up in the field of sports, academics, or even performing arts, this book is the perfect gift for their next birthday.

Whether you are successfully building up your business or struggling for support from loved ones, reading this book will help you find solutions to the core of your problems.

This book is not recommended for those battling terminal health issues, and looking for some peace amidst painful living.

Review of Ego Is The Enemy

This book provides eternally useful lessons for all. Managing and keeping your ego under control is a life-long job. While summarizing the Ego Is The Enemy book, I couldn’t help but come to a much-needed conclusion. Irrespective of what stage (success, aspiration, failure) of life you’re in, you need to build specific principles so that you don’t allow ego to get in the way of your success.

These points below will help understand the lessons better:

  • You shouldn’t ever stop learning, not only about yourself but also about others
  • Make sure that the aim you pick is not about only you; it should be bigger and selfless
  • The work you do should hold the highest priority as it will keep you from being impractical

Nevertheless, what strikes me in this book is that the author (who follows Stoic principles) describes rejecting wealth and fame as a means instead of the end. However, this is not in agreement with the Stoic principles.

Should I read the complete book?

This book provides an insight on the most appropriate approach towards goals and relationships (with yourself and others). It provides ways to help you stay humble, and accept failure with a positive mindset.

The Ego Is The Enemy can be summarized to be a book that reflects on how ego destroys your path to success. The only way to keep the ego under control is through discipline in thoughts and actions, which will ensure genuine improvement and success in life.

No matter who you are, and where you are in life, giving this book a read will enrich your thinking and way of life. You should definitely buy and complete reading this book. You will get a taste of real success and will be able to build a more positive and principled life for yourself.

Marilyn Nissen
Written by Marilyn Nissen

Marilyn Nissen is the founder of, a highly reputable book summary and reviews website. With over a decade of experience in summarizing and reviewing books, Marilyn is a trusted authority in the book industry.