Get the Book.
Ryan Holiday wrote one of my favorite books this year, Ego Is the Enemy. It truly shook my perspective on my life, people, how we interact, ambitions, and passion. But what it did for me, above all else, was open my eyes to the role ego plays in this industry.
Ego is Everywhere.
It’s pretty much a given that the Film / TV industry is full of inflated egos from stars, directors, big name producers, etc. But those aren’t the egos I saw get in the way of projects.
I saw it within myself. I saw it within those I had worked with. I saw it within my friends.
“It’s about the doing, not the recognition. Easier in the sense that you don’t need to compromise. Harder because each opportunity – no matter how gratifying or rewarding – must be evaluated along strict guidelines. Does this help me do what I have set out to do? Does this allow me to do what I need to do? Am I being selfish or selfless?” Ego Is The Enemy – Ryan Holiday.
Ego Destroys Films.
I’m just going to be blunt. I’ve seen projects, specifically films, this past year fall a part because of the egos of those in charge. I’ve seen producers and directors put their own self interests and recognition before the project. The film either never gets finished, doesn’t get sold, or misses its market timing because of the egos wanting festival and awards recognition.
Not every film is a festival film. Not every film is meant to have a huge theatrical release. Your film is NOT the best film on the face of the planet.
“Facts are better than dreams, as Churchill put it.” Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday.
You are NOT your Ego.
I noticed my own ego getting out of hand this year, but not in the typical way that people think. That’s the sneaky thing about the ego. It doesn’t always make you think that you’re the best. It also can make you think that you’re the worst. Whatever it does, it ties your self-worth and identity to your work. It makes what you do, who you are.
I had the blessing of helping out / working on a few projects this year for free in a position that was far beneath a producer or director. I call it a blessing because it is the best thing that any producer can do. There were days where I did pointless, thankless work for free. There were days where I did very meaningful, difficult work for free. I also had the blessing of exciting work falling through and not happening. I had to pick myself back up and keep moving forward. I saw my peers excel and celebrate it online. This calibrated my ego.
Through these tough times, I had to separate who I am as a human being from the status of my work.
“Back to another popular old trope: Fake it ’til you make it. It’s no surprise that such an idea has found increasing relevance in our noxiously bullshit, Nerf world. When it is difficult to tell a real producer from an adept self-promoter, of course some people will roll the dice and manage to play the confidence game. Make it so you don’t have to fake it – that’s the key.” Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday.
Say Little. Do Much.
That’s one of my favorite quotes from the book. I love it so much I got it tattooed on my wrists. Whenever I start to feel inadequate by the talk and boasting of others around me, I take a breath and look at my wrists. We are in this crazy industry for all kinds of reasons. Every single person got to where they are in their own way. In my last blog post, I mention the importance of focusing and owning your journey. I want to dig a little deeper into that by saying that a meaningful career is a marathon, not a sprint. It is bumpy, not linear. But as long as you prioritize producing good, quality work, above big, bold talk, you will go far.
- Humble in our aspirations
- Gracious in our success
- Resilient in our failures
~ Ego is the Enemy – Ryan Holiday