Some of the most prominent individuals, the greatest fighters, the loudest leaders, those who were projected to be the best and to win it all, were the ones who, according to our history books, went down, flying off of their pedestal, because of one key character flaw that caused ripple effects in their lives.
“The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better.”
(Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy: The Fight to Master Our Greatest Opponent)
The issue of pride in one’s heart and mind is one that ripples out into all areas of the individual’s life. When unchecked, this vice can cause what could be compared to an earthquake in their life, cracking them from the inside and self-destructing.
The real problems arise, however, when we refuse to fight back against these tendencies.
In his book, “Ego Is The Enemy”, author Ryan Holiday, a man and an author to admire, writes about these problems and issues that ego has caused historically and in today’s day and age.
Holiday encourages that we fight the lie that we are the best. While our mothers might have (truthfully) let us know how special we were when we were younger, this specialness does not equal greatness. Inside every human being is a given value, a worth, that nothing we ever do can take away.
However, whether or not we are productive and world-changing in this life is a matter of what we do. We can talk all we want. We can think for all of our days. We can even write some ideas down, but if those words, thoughts, and writings and plans are never acted on — our life can never be counted among the legends.
Not if we don’t earn it.
Prideful people don’t earn it.
Those who give into arrogance and the belief that they are somehow more important and worth more than other people inherently, or even with a few accomplishments under their belt, will never earn what is truly required to be a legend and a difference maker in the world.
The ones who break free from lies, from the noise, from the belief that they deserve success or have earned it before they really have, are the ones that will really go on to achieve.
Now I’ll be bold
As well as strong
And use my head alongside my heart
So take my flesh
And fix my eyes
A tethered mind free from the lies
(I Will Wait, Mumford & Sons)
Prideful people are being deceived. The real question is…
Will you continue to be?
The truth is, we’ve seen hardly anything in our lives so far. The world is small, but it’s also really big. There are countless possibilities lying beyond the horizon for us. However, if we become complacent, satisfied, and content in a place that is not the extent of our potential, we mustn’t behave as if we have reached the top.
Those who believe that there’s nowhere left to go, never go anywhere amazing.
“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above you.”
(C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
Ego is a solid roof over our heads. Humility is a door that is always open to new possibilities, new things to learn, and new places to go and explore.
Many people have tried to reach the top and failed, because they believed that they deserved it, for some reason. They expected success, and acceptance, and awards and the completion of accomplishments without push back. But as has been well established in general understanding, nothing good is ever easy.
We can’t achieve true greatness if we believe we’ve already achieved it. Those who maintain humility are those who keep their eyes open. Not only do they keep themselves open to new possibilities and goals and dreams, but also to criticisms, to the words of those wiser than them, and to the lessons that can be learned from the failures that they are proud of.
Successful people know that life, success, and real happiness is a journey — and not a destination.
Life should not be sitting in your accomplishments, basking in the glory — real life, a good life, an exciting, fulfilling, and joyful life is that where you are hopping in the front seat and speeding away to your next path. It’s heading down journey after journey, looking for something new to learn, another way to grow, and more people to meet and gain from and give to.
Pride comes before the fall — and it’s good to have people around when we fall. But life isn’t about being better than everyone else. Life should be about figuring stuff out together, and letting others know, building one another up and going on the journey together to reach a better existence, about refining it to be the best and most beautiful it can be.
Success is great. Titles are fun. New uniforms and money are incredible.
But they’re not what’s going to do it for you.
Ego is the enemy.
Why? Because ego, pride, arrogance, whatever you want to call it — keeps you from living the life that you could. Arrogance is a trap. It’s a rope that ties you down, instead of one that allows you to climb higher.
Pride is a lie that leads you to believe things about yourself, others, and the world that simply aren’t true.
Ego leads you to think that you are something you’re not. While it feels good for a while, ego isn’t sustainable. It won’t get you where you really want to go. It won’t help you. It won’t grow your relationships. It won’t allow you to operate from a stance of love. It won’t open doors, but it will close them.
The question remains, how do we want to live our lives?
Ego is fine. Pride words for some people. Arrogance can attract attention, win games, earn money, and gain followers — but it’s all about what you’re really looking for.
“Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.”
(Ryan Holiday, The Ego Is the Enemy)
Don’t abandon your principles, or good work, in order to gain attention. Never assume that you know it all — because you never will. Avoid believing the lies about yourself that, in the long run, will not aid your long-term goals and vision. Stick to your mission. Live a real life, a life without lies, without burdens, without closed doors — live I life separate and apart from your ego.
Fight your greatest personal enemy.