Ego is the Enemy

I’m reading this book, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday. I’ve read some of Holiday’s other works, including Conspiracy (about PayPay co-founder Peter Thiel’s epic takedown of Gawker Media) and numerous articles on the website curated by Holiday. You may recall that I’m a fan of the ancient Stoic philosophers.

Anyway, this quote caught my attention tonight:

“All of us regularly say yes unthinkingly, or out of vague attraction, or out of greed or vanity. Because we can’t say no — because we might miss out on something if we did. We think “yes” will let us accomplish more, when in reality it prevents exactly what we seek.”

Doesn’t this sound like a poker player who calls large river bets when he should fold instead? Replace “yes” with “call” above and see how true this rings.

We think we are going to win, or deserve to win, or might win despite the preponderance of the evidence to the contrary. We want to win… this pot, right now! If we fold the best hand, we miss out on a golden opportunity.

And yet, time and again, we see one player make a large river bet, the second player calls, and the first player wins.

A few sentences after the quote above, Holiday continues, “Ego leads to envy and it rots the bones of people big and small. Ego undermines greatness by deluding its holder.”

Ego is the enemy of folding.


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