This is the continuation of my previous post on the Ego which can be found here.
“A nation is born stoic and dies epicurean” – Will Durant
Let’s say you defeated the odds and became successful even with a large ego.
You fooled people and your delusion passed for confidence, ignorance for courage and craziness for audaciousness.
You’ve achieved success.
One thing you’ll notice is that this success you gained is ephemeral. Why?
It’s because with an ego success won’t last – life is a toll road you’re either going to pay the toll at the start or a heavy price at the end.
Even though you got lucky with – you will eventually become of a victim of yourself. You’ll stop learning because you think you know it all. You pride will make you think you’re better than you actually are so you’ll stop trying.
Aristotle once said, without virtue or training, “It is hard to bear the results of good fortune suitably”.
If you look at the story of Howard Hughes – he was a celebrated businessman with movies made after him. His ego was through the roof but if you read his autobiography and get the real story, you see something completely different.
Howard Hughes’ ego was so large he destroyed everything he touched and had one of the worst business records of all time.
The only reason why we got to see him fail so much is because of his stable oil tools company which kept him afloat.
He died in an asylum of his own making – felt little joy and wasted what he had.
When you reach “success”, the most dangerous delusions appear: entitlement, control and paranoia.
These delusions exhaust people, particularly those close to you as you push them to their breaking point.
“He who indulges empty fears earns himself real fears” – Seneca
These delusions build the asylum that you spend the rest of your life in.
Everyone is gunning for you and you know it. The stakes are higher and the margin for error that much lower.
This is where you need to be at the top of your game at all times – but your ego numbs you.
The ambition that fueled your effort and began as an innocent drive, unchecked became hubris and entitlement.
It begins to over estimate your power, you lose perspective, lose your edge and then you’re done.
Pat Riley said you see it in basketball teams. Before a team starts winning, they’re innocent.
When the conditions are right they start coming together, watch out for each other and work together towards a collective goal.
The wins starting coming in and the media pay attention.
This is exactly where the egos begin bubbling through the surface.
Players over calculate their importance, chests swell, the bonds that kept the team together began to fray.
Frustrations emerge as the disease of me strikes.
In the case of failure is when the ego can really show its ugly face.
No one is permanently a success or a failure but ego can take small setbacks and make them fatal.
The more we surround ourselves with bullshit and lies, the larger the ego gets – the harder the fall.
In Greek mythology this experience is called katabasis – where a man experiences such a huge failure they’re forced to retreat in a certain depression.
They go to “hell” and come back with a heightened understanding or knowledge – like Malcom X or Steve Jobs – or they stay there forever.
Charlie Munge said that one of the keys to living an unhappy life is make mistakes on your own and not learn from the mistakes of others.
You could wait for a significant event in your life to be the catalyst for your change – or you can do it now and not waste precious years.
Years you could have spent building and working to actually be impressive.
Steve Jobs always said that “he didn’t want to be the richest man in the graveyard”.
We all know how that story played out.
Will you make the same mistakes?