Life and Passions Self-improvement

You’re Not as Beloved as You Think

It’s easy to let self-importance set in. Look at the car they sent for you. Look at how big your office is. Look at all the people who report to you. Look at the awards you’ve won. Look at the recognition you’ve gotten. You’re a pillar of your community. You’re the best in your field.

Marcus felt this pull. Seneca did too. Cato and Posidonius as well. How could they not? They were important. They were respected. They were a cut above the rest. Ego was a natural temptation for them, as it is for you, as it is for anyone in a position of leadership or influence.

Which is why we have to actively work against it—to remind ourselves that we’re not nearly so popular or special as we think.

“What would people say if I would die?” Napoleon once asked his courtiers. As they fell over themselves to answer with compliments and assurances of his indispensability, he corrected them. “They would say, ‘Ouf!’” Napoleon knew that as a conqueror, he rode the razor’s edge. He knew that the mob he’d rode into office could ride him out just as quickly.

And more importantly, he knew that you have to look past the trappings of success, you have to ignore the flatterers and dismiss the sycophants if you want to have any chance of surviving your time at the top without spending all of it looking over your shoulder. Marcus reminded himself that on his deathbed, there’d be some people happy to see him go, and it made him a better ruler as a result.

Ego is the enemy. Pride goeth before the fall. Self-importance is a lie.

P.S. Whether we’re aspiring to do something, experiencing success or in the middle of difficulty: ego is the enemy, every step along the way. That is why we designed the Ego is the Enemy medallion. Keep this medallion by your side to help you guard against your greatest foe—your own ego.

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