Ego Is The Enemy And The Obstacle Is The Way

As I wrote in a previous post about philosophy and coding I was not always a big fan of philosophy. I viewed it as an academic pursuit, a bunch of eggheads sitting around thinking about thinking. I never saw the practical value. That is until a read a pair of books by Ryan Holiday.

I started reading the book Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday, right about the time of the 2016 elections. Needless to say, there were plenty of examples in the news of people’s egos getting the best of them. It helped to reinforce a lot of the points in the book. The book covers ambition, success, and failure and how at each stage our ego can lead us astray. He uses a lot of real-life examples, historical figures, some you are familiar with, some not. He also references a lot of the Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, and Epictetus.

In 2019, I read another Ryan Holiday book, The Obstacle Is The Way. It deals with how to overcome obstacles by embracing them and looking at them as opportunities. It starts with how we perceive things and then how we take action to respond to them. He talks about persistence (action) and perseverance (endurance). As in Ego is the Enemy this book has a lot of real-life examples and Stoic wisdom.

Both of these books had a profound impact on the way I view philosophy. I think the biggest part of that was the real-life examples. Seeing how others have lived out these ideas in real life helped to solidify the usefulness of philosophy for me. In fact, at the end of The Obstacle Is The Way is a postscript which talks about how to take the ideas and apply them.

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