12 Humbling Quotes on Ego from Ego is the Enemy

12 Humbling Quotes on Ego from Ego is the Enemy

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Introduction:  Why is the ego the enemy?

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The ego is the sense we have of our self-esteem and our self-worth.  When it comes to moving forward in life, Ryan Holiday, author of Ego is the Enemy argues that both in success and in failure, ego only gets in the way and holds us back.  The time we spend in our own heads comparing ourselves to others and measuring our esteem is time that is distracted from the real work we could be doing—the work of producing our art and cultivating our life’s task.

In success, the ego expands and can lead us away from the humble and determined mindset(s) that got us to our successes in the first place.  Too many successes in a row and we start to see the ego move from unsure to confidence to cockiness and bad habits can start to form including less time spent in preparation and an increased lack in desire to learn and/or practice.  Keeping our ego in check in success keeps us focused on the same processes that got us to those victories in the first place and ensures we humbly keep working towards our goals.

In failure, we see the ego deflate and magnify every mistake—sometimes in completely blown out of proportion ways.  By removing our ego from failure situations, we can quickly start to see the learning opportunities in such moments and start to focus our energy on growing rather than shrinking.  A great example of an ego question vs a growth question would be, “Why am I such a failure?” vs. “What good can come from this mistake?”  This one simple trick is an incredibly powerful mind hack that can help you start getting through failures, quicker, as you journey forward.

By focusing on the process and the actions we can take at every step along the way, both in success and in failure, and by removing our ego from the equation, we can magnify our effectiveness in producing results.  Below you’ll find 12 quotes on ego from Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday that will keep you humbly on track towards accomplishing your life goals.  Take special note of any thoughts that make you nod your head or cause you to think a little deeper.  Those are the thoughts that will help you change your path and help you take your next step forward.  Good luck!

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The List:  12 Quotes on Ego from Ego is the Enemy

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“Greatness comes from humble beginnings; it comes from grunt work.  It means you’re the least important person in the room – until you change that with results.”


“Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble?  I believe there’s one simple test: because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve.  They don’t assume, ‘I know the way.’”


“Today, books are cheaper than ever.  Courses are free.  Access to teachers is no longer a barrier – technology has done away with that.  There is no excuse for not getting your education, and because the information we have before us is so vast, there is no excuse for ever ending that process either.”


“Christians believe that pride is a sin because it is a lie – it convinces people that they are better than they are, that they are better than God made them.  Pride leads to arrogance and then away from humility and connection with their fellow man.  You don’t have to be Christian to see the wisdom in this.  You need only to care about your career to understand that pride – even in real accomplishments – is a distraction and a deluder.”


“You can’t learn if you think you already know.  You will not find the answers if you’re too conceited and self-assured to ask the questions.  You cannot get better if you’re convinced you are the best.”


“We don’t like thinking that someone is better than us.  Or that we have a lot left to learn.  We want to be done.  We want to be ready.  We’re busy and overburdened.  For this reason, updating your appraisal of your talents in a downward direction is one of the most difficult things to do in life – but it is almost always a component of mastery.  The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better.  Studious self-assessment is the antidote.”


“It doesn’t matter how talented you are, how great your connections are, how much money you have.  When you want to do something – something big and important and meaningful – you will be subjected to treatment ranging from indifference to outright sabotage.  Count on it.”


“Attempting to destroy something out of hate or ego often ensures that it will be preserved and disseminated forever.”


“Almost universally, the traits or behaviors that have pissed us off in other people – their dishonesty, their selfishness, their laziness – are hardly going to work out well for them in the end.  Their ego and shortsightedness contains its own punishment.  The question we must ask ourselves is: Are we going to be miserable just because other people are?”


“The art of taking feedback is such a crucial skill in life, particularly harsh and critical feedback.  We not only need to take this harsh feedback, but actively solicit it, labor to seek out the negative precisely when our friends and family and brain are telling us that we’re doing great.  The ego avoids such feedback at all costs, however.  Who wants to remand themselves to remedial training?  It thinks it already knows how and who we are – that is, it thinks we are spectacular, perfect, genius, truly innovative.  It dislikes reality and prefers its own assessment.”


“We tend to be on guard against negativity, against the people who are discouraging us from pursuing our callings or doubting the visions we have for ourselves.  This is certainly an obstacle to beware of, though dealing with it is rather simple.  What we cultivate less is how to protect ourselves against the validation and gratification that will quickly come our way if we show promise.  What we don’t protect ourselves against are people and things that make us feel good – or rather, too good.  We must prepare for pride and kill it early – or it will kill what we aspire to.  We must be on guard against that wild self-confidence and self-obsession.”


“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.  Sobriety, open-mindedness, organization, and purpose – these are the great stabilizers.  They balance out the ego and pride that comes with achievement and recognition.”

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Comment:  How has ego affected you in the past?  Do you find that you’re more affected by your ego in success or in failure?  What can you do to remove the influences of the ego moving forward?

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If you enjoyed these quotes on ego from Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, you can find more quotes and resources from his book below:

Book Overview: Many of us insist the main impediment to a full, successful life is the outside world. In fact, the most common enemy lies within: our ego. Early in our careers, it impedes learning and the cultivation of talent. With success, it can blind us to our faults and sow future problems. In failure, it magnifies each blow and makes recovery more difficult. At every stage, ego holds us back. Ego Is the Enemy draws on a vast array of stories and examples, from literature to philosophy to his­tory. We meet fascinating figures such as George Marshall, Jackie Robinson, Katharine Graham, Bill Belichick, and Eleanor Roosevelt, who all reached the highest levels of power and success by con­quering their own egos. Their strategies and tactics can be ours as well.

Quotes from Book! Buy from Amazon!

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