Shipping to
United Kingdom

Is Your Ego Getting In Your Way?

July 2016Words by Mr Adam Welch

Illustration by Mr Joe McKendry

It’s the saccharine moral of many a Hollywood movie and TV sitcom: just believe in yourself and you’ll be a success. But is there such a thing as too much self-belief? If you ask Mr Ryan Holiday, the author of new book Ego Is The Enemy, the answer to this question is a definitive “yes”. A writer, marketing expert and entrepreneur who now advises media clients such as Refinery29 and Google through his company Brass Check, Mr Holiday also worked as director of marketing for American Apparel during the tumultuous period in which the company’s founder Mr Dov Charney was dismissed after being accused of various professional and personal misdemeanours.

It was this experience, among others, that taught him the havoc that unfettered egotism can wreak upon the lives of oneself and others. It’s an issue he feels is particularly relevant for our current, selfie-obsessed culture. “You see it everywhere around us, especially on social media,” he says. “These tools make it very easy to puff ourselves up, to show off, to talk, to manufacture an image. We start thinking we are constantly on a stage performing for an audience. And all this feeds our egos… But there has also been a shift in culture, especially here in the US and with today’s parenting models. We are told to believe in our uniqueness above all else. We’re told to think big, live big, to be memorable.” Such thinking, he says, can make it difficult for people to be objective about reality, and ultimately results in failure, however much belief they may have in their vision or professional prowess.

“The reality is that most projects are hard and complicated; most visions turn out to be laughably wrong,” says Mr Holiday. “I think there’s a better model to follow and it doesn’t involve people telling you how great you are from birth.” In the course of the book, Mr Holiday draws on various historical examples and thinkers to hammer home his point – that a certain level of humility and uncertainty is really what allows people to learn and grow as professionals and individuals. Of course, we at MR PORTER have got this all locked down (ahem). But we thought we’d ask him for a few ego-quelling tips in any case…