Ego Is the Enemy

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Ego Is the Enemy
Ego Is the Enemy.jpg
AuthorRyan Holiday
CountryUnited States
SubjectLeadership, personal development, business management, ambition
GenreNon-fiction, motivational essays
PublisherPortfolio, Penguin
Publication date
June 14, 2016
Media typePrint (hardcover), ebook
LC ClassBJ1474.H635 2016
Preceded byThe Obstacle Is the Way

Ego Is the Enemy is the fourth book by author Ryan Holiday, published on June 14, 2016.[1][2] It is about the treacherous nature of ego.[3][4]


Having previously written about external obstacles in his book The Obstacle Is the Way, Holiday sought to answer questions about what to do when the biggest obstacle is internal.[5] In the prologue of the book, Holiday explains how finding early successes led him to the realization that ego can cloud ambition and hinder personal and professional growth, particularly when accomplishments are tied to self-worth.[6]

Holiday had the title of his book tattooed on his forearm as a daily reminder of its message.[7]


Ego Is the Enemy puts forth the argument that often our biggest problems are not caused by external factors such as other people or circumstances. Instead, our problems stem from our own attitude, selfishness and self-absorption. In other words, introducing ego into a situation often prevents us from being rational, objective and clear headed.[8]

The book does not discuss Freud's ego or egotism as a clinical term but rather ego in a colloquial sense, defined as "an unhealthy belief in your own importance."[9] The book also discusses the difference between ego and confidence, and argues that the solution to the problem of ego is humility, self-awareness, purpose and realism.[5][10][5][11]

Ego Is the Enemy provides both cautionary tales as well as positive anecdotes about ego, citing numerous historical and contemporary figures including Christopher McCandless, George Marshall, John DeLorean, Larry Page, Paul Graham, Steve Jobs and William Tecumseh Sherman.[5][6][12][13]


Ego Is the Enemy has received generally positive reviews, with Outside Magazine commenting, "Holiday takes philosophy out of the ivory towers and translates often-dense concepts into actionable insights."[14][15] The book was featured in the NPR Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads.[16]

In the weeks after its release, the book was listed by Inc. as one of the must-read business books that summer.[17] The book went on to achieve bestseller status lists by USA Today, Chicago Tribune, and Publishers Weekly.[18][19][20]


  1. ^ Christian Gollayan (26 May 2016). "Got a Kanye-sized ego? Here's how to fix it". New York Post. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  2. ^ Kara Cutruzzula (9 August 2016). "The Last 100 Years of Self-Help". TIME. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  3. ^ Alexander Alter (6 December 2016). "Ryan Holiday Sells Stoicism as a Life Hack, Without Apology". New York Times. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  4. ^ "Apple iBooks Category Bestsellers, July 3, 2016". Publishers Weekly. 9 July 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Dan Schwabel (14 June 2016). "Ryan Holiday: How Ego Makes Business Leaders Less Successful". Forbes. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  6. ^ a b Anisa Purbasari (24 June 2016). "Why you should think twice before aiming to 'change the world'". Business Insider. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  7. ^ Adam Gale (9 November 2016). "Why ego is toxic to leadership". Management Today. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  8. ^ Amanda Salinas (17 June 2016). "'Ego Is the Enemy'". Fox 7. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  9. ^ Quora (17 June 2016). "Why Ego Is the Enemy in Business and in Life". Huffington Post. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  10. ^ Brian Koppelman (4 May 2016). "Ryan Holiday Talks Stoicism and Why Ego Is the Enemy". Slate. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  11. ^ Mike O'Connor (30 November 2016). "A career counselor at an elite college says students should follow their purpose in life—not their passion". Quartz. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  12. ^ Anisa Purbasari (6 July 2016). "Refusing to run for president was the unexpected key to this Civil War commander's success". Business Insider. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  13. ^ Ryan Holiday (14 June 2016). "How Ego Almost Destroyed Steve Jobs' Career". Fortune. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  14. ^ Brad Stulberg (8 June 2016). "How Can I Bulletproof My Mind to Get More Out of My Body?". Outside. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  15. ^ Charles Franklin (27 November 2016). "The Antidote to the Success Paradox is to Realize that Ego is the Enemy". Small Business Trends. Retrieved 31 January 2017.
  16. ^ NPR’s Book Concierge: Our Guide To 2016’s Great Reads NPR. January 19, 2016
  17. ^ Richard Feloni and Shana Lebowitz (28 June 2016). "23 Must-Read Business Books for This Summer". Inc. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  18. ^ "Ego Is the Enemy". USA Today. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  19. ^ "Best-Sellers: Hardcover fiction and nonfiction, plus Chicagoland hits". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  20. ^ "Bestsellers for the week ending June 19". Newsday. Retrieved 19 January 2017.

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