Reading “Ego Is the Enemy”

It should be named “Ego Is Both the Friend and the Enemy”. The story of Howard Hughes is very interesting–the worst businessman ever who is famed for losing money in every business adventure he’s involved in, lol. Although I don’t know much about all these prominent figures, I somehow watched “The Aviator”, probably dragged to the movie theater by a friend. I also enjoy the Malcolm X story, but it is too short–prison is the best university being the moral of the story by the author, lol. I didn’t watch the movie Malcolm X, but I wish I had. I guess the popularity of Ryan Holiday’s books comes from his occasional hilarious insights.

I think the author is not intending for the book to be read this way, but somehow it could be interpreted that people’s opinion is mainly based on the result. If the result happens to be favorable, then the ego and the stubbornness in one’s own determination despite objections are treated as bravery, the decision treated as wisdom. For example the case of Katharine Graham and the Pentagon Paper. It’s a risk Ms. Graham took and it could go either way. Since she turned out to be the winner, she was lauded. Also for example, in the case of Alexander the Great. When his campaign was going well, he was praised for his courage and leadership; when it was going badly, he was criticized for being egoistic and being unable to listen to advice. It seems to me that the world is filled up with the decisions of to risk or not to risk, to be stubborn or to be flexible. We learn and we improve through failures; we self aggrandize when we win which can lead to future mishaps. These are easy to understand. However risk is difficult to understand and even more difficult to manage. Even if we give a percentage to a given risk, we still can’t be sure. The stories of our life or historical events are not statistical experiments that can be enumerated and repeated to make the percentage a valid point in our decision making. Even if the percentage of risk is big, we probably want to take it, given the circumstances and our own lack of alternatives.

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