Risk Services Of Arkansas - May 2018

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There’s a Log in Your Eye

In today’s culture, it seems as if everyone is hyperfocused on our own self-importance. Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter encourage us to plaster the internet with posts extolling our greatness with no regard for the reality of our circumstances or the effect we might have on others. Politicians on both sides of the fence spout vitriol on TV and shamelessly act like little children who only want their own way. It’s easy to blame millennials, rampant materialism, or Hollywood, but I think it’s more complicated than that. The other day, while meandering around Barnes & Noble, I came across a book that brought some clarity to this current American dilemma. It helped me refine some aspects of my own personal philosophy. It’s called “Ego Is the Enemy” by Ryan Holiday. Throughout the book, Holiday argues that the root cause of our individual and collective struggles come down to the ego. He defines the idea of ego as an “unhealthy belief in our own importance,” accompanied by “arrogance” and “self-centered ambition.” He writes, “It’s that petulant child inside every person, the one who chooses getting his own way over anything or anyone else.” It’s the “need to be better than, more than, recognized for, far past any reasonable utility.” Though he concedes that “most of us aren’t egomaniacs,” he believes that “ego is at the root of almost every conceivable RYAN HOLIDAY’S ‘EGO IS THE ENEMY’

problem and obstacle, from why we can’t win to why we need to win all the time and at the expense of others.” But, at least to me, possibly the worst part about letting ego run rampant is that it distances us from one another by putting up walls created by comparison. In one passage that resonated with me as a man of faith, Holiday writes that Christians believe that pride is a sin because it is a lie; it convinces people that they are better

did everything I could to prove to myself and others how successful I was because, back then, I guess I didn’t really believe it. But now,

after many years of hard lessons, actively seeking wisdom, and becoming a disciple of Christ, I understand that what I used to think of as confidence wasn’t really confidence at all — it was egotistical fragility. But, at least to me, possibly the worst part about letting ego run rampant is that it distances us from one another ... ” Reading “Ego is the Enemy” was a valuable stepping stone on my journey toward maturity. Of course, I’m not about to tell anyone else what to do; I still struggle with these issues every day. In the Bible, Jesus says “... first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7:5. I’ve found that when I follow this advice, I have so much work to do that I don’t even notice anyone else’s speck!

than they are and better than God made them. Pride leads to arrogance and away from humility and connection with our fellow man. It magnifies the confidence we have in our beliefs to the point where we’re

unable to consider another’s perspective, and a simple discussion can devolve into toxic name- calling at the drop of a hat. I found myself highlighting passage after passage as I read the book. I guess that means I have a lot to learn about this subject and a long way to go to rescue myself from my own inflated ego. For a while now, I’ve sought out ways to rein in my selfish instincts, so I guess that is why I grabbed this book. Looking back over my life, it’s apparent now that I spent a lot of time caught in the throes of my own ego. I used to tick off arbitrary “accomplishment” boxes to appear important in my own eyes. I

–Brad Johnson

President, Risk Services of AR Specialized Insurance Programs for Specialized Industries. • www.insurica.com • 1

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