Tim Ferriss often asks guests what book they’ve gifted the most. I never had an answer for that question (not that he’ll be asking me that personally any time soon). I can say now that I’ve gifted Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way to multiple people. Holiday took Stoic philosophy—already written in relatively plain language—and showed how the lessons apply to modern life.
Holiday gave a good description on a podcast episode: The Obstacle is the Way teaches how to approach external challenges, and Ego is the Enemy lays out the internal challenges. We’ll face battles within ourselves during all phases of life.
I want to write full notes for Ego is the Enemy and its other sections: Success & Failure. I didn’t set time aside to finish that yet, but I want to make sure to include Ego is the Enemy in this 100 Posts, 100 Days project. So I’ll focus on the section most fitting to my current phase in writing: Aspire.
Posting daily for this stretch of time is a step toward my bigger aspirations of improving as a writer. If I listened to my ego, passion would be enough to get me there. It’s not. Passion doesn’t make you an outlier. It’s the work. It’s luck. Plenty of people have ideas. Plenty of people have passion. Having passion, ideas, and luck makes for a good mix. Putting the work in will make you successful. You can’t control the luck. So resolve to focus and appreciate the work.
Everyone would love to play a game for a living. Game day isn’t the work, though. That’s the flow state. That’s the fun part. A smaller percentage would love doing the practice it takes to earn the right to play a game for a living. It’d be great to send an audience into a ruckus with a comedy set. By most accounts, it takes night after night of bombing to get to that point. There’s almost always work to do.
The work won’t be easy, and that will be good for you. That’s how you identify what could be worth doing. If there’s something nobody wants to do, you can always start there. Doing the gritty work might be the cost of entrance to be around top performers. Being in that environment will accelerate your learning. The ticket in often looks like hard work.
So I’ll resolve to do the work. I’ll write these posts read by a handful of people. If that. I’ll earn the attention of my first ten by doing the work. The first thousand will be found on the same path, years down the road. Incredible success would require a few lucky breaks. In the meantime, I’ll get my reps in. I’ll be satisfied with the work. I’ll aspire.