What you get from reading this book review: 5 Big Life Lessons from Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday

In this book review: 5 Big Life Lessons from Ego is the Enemy; I share what I consider the biggest lessons from the international bestseller by Ryan Holiday. These life lessons will help you to become a better person. In addition, it paves the way to overcome seeming failures while creating opportunities for new achievements.


I first read Ego is the Enemy in 2017. And I have read it many more times since then. I found the book both interesting and impactful. It is a companion to constantly reminding me of being better, overcoming temporary failures thereby creating opportunities for new achievements. Therefore, I jot these points down here as part of my open dairy. Henceforth, I will not need to re-read the entire book for these reminders. I hope you equally find these points useful. Do let me know in the comment section, if you do or if otherwise.

About “Ego is the Enemy”

Ego is the Enemy is a book of practical philosophy. The author is Ryan Holiday. Ryan published the book in 2016, recounting some really painful experiences in his life during the period he was researching the book.

The book discusses the problem of ego, “not in the in the Freudian sense” or egotism as a clinical term. Instead, the book discusses ego in a colloquial sense. And in this sense, everybody has ego which is dangerous to us. This type of ego is dangerous to us because, for the struggling, it makes us to fail; and for the successful, it makes it difficult for us to maintain our success.

The book suggests how we may deal with this kind of ego. Top of the lessons are what I share in this post.

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is a marketing genius and a public-relation expert. He dropped out of college at the age of 19 and became the youngest executive (director of marketing) at American Apparel, one of the fastest growing companies in America as at the start of the century. Ryan worked directly with Robert Greene, author of “The 48 Laws of Power”. The Trump administration offered him a communications director position but he rejected it.

Ryan currently owns and operates Painted Porch Bookshop in Texas, USA.

Book Review – 5 Big Life Lessons from Ego is the Enemy

Here are the 5 big life lessons from Ego is the Enemy:

Lesson 1: Do not build your life completely around a mentor

An important lesson from ‘Ego is the enemy’ is that you should have a mentor. Always see yourself as a student. No matter how good you are at what you do, be open to accept that there is still more to learn. This open-mindedness helps to keep you humble. It also helps you to improve your skills and become more efficient.  This is true in spirituality as well as in work life. This is a fundamental lesson.

However, the big lesson here is this: though you may have mentors, do not build your life completely around them. This lesson comes from a personal experience of the author which he recounted in the “painful prologue”.

In the prologue, the author described how he rode on the back of his mentors to the pinnacle of success within a short time. But the same mentor-figure “crushed” him to the point that he had to be taken to emergency room.  

At that initial stage, he built his world around his mentors. He held them in so much esteem that he considered them to be infallible. In his words: “These were the people I had shaped my life around. The people I looked up to and trained under. Their stability—financially, emotionally, psychologically—was not just something I took for granted, it was central to my existence and self-worth”.

This is why their fall was too hard for him to take. Describing how much the fall of his mentors affected him, he said “The wheels were coming off, or so it felt. To go from wanting to be like someone your whole life to realizing you never want to be like him is a kind of whiplash that you can’t prepare for.”

The author is not alone in this. Countless number of people are rather too attached to their mentors. They define their independence in terms of their mentors. To them, the words of their mentor are unbreakable laws as the mentors themselves are faultless.

We have seen people loss their faith because their godfather or godmother backslide. There are people that developed acute inferiority complex because their “perfect model” expressed some negativity towards them. These and situations like these are the result of overattachment to one’s mentors.

You learn today that you should not excessively attach to a mentor. Understand that nobody is really perfect. Accept the possibilities that even the mentor can fail.  This will serve as shock absorber in case of any failure. It will keep you on track regardless of what happens.

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