to be or to do?

According to Holiday our ego is associated with our “to be”. We have a vision, an ideal image that we want to be perceived as, values we want others to recognize in us. In contrast, “to do” represents our actions. The behaviors we actually display that should act as the basis of people’s judgement of our character. However, oftentimes there is a disconnect between our “to be” and our “to do”. The image we pursue, the way want to be perceived, often forces us to alter our actual behavior and therefore creates misalignment.

Holiday encourages us to focus on our “to do” and allow the rest to take care of itself, rather than placing unnecessary pressure on ourselves to be perceived in a certain way. Essentially, recognize the values that you prioritize and act in alignment with them, allowing the externalities to take care of themselves, instead of creating an ideal image and then adjusting your behavior to suit that. 

What matters to an active man is to do the right thing; whether the right thing comes to pass should not bother him.

purpose over passion

Holiday believes that purpose and realism are fundamental to personal and professional success. We’ve all heard inspirational speeches in which the speaker vehemently encourages us to “follow your passion” and “do what you love”, and to a certain extent this is true. However, Holiday believes that our passion can blind us, allowing us to oversee major flaws and ignore opportunities.

Holiday defines purpose as being passion with boundaries, whilst realism is detachment and perspective. Based on these definitions, Holiday believes that if we can couple purpose and a healthy dose of realism in understanding what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, this will lead to success in any part of our life.

We’ve all met “dreamers”, those with bold ideas, with a grand vision of what they want to accomplish, head in the clouds envisioning the wonders their idea will bring to fruition. However, this alone will not bring any sort of results. A sense of realism and an objective analysis of the situation at hand will more likely lead you in the direction of success, as you’re not caught up in the clouds, but rather we’re taking action.

Those who have subdued their ego understand that it doesn’t degrade you when others treat you poorly; it degrades them.


concise chapters

The chapters in Holiday’s book are quite short. I like this because it allow the reader to benefit from the fascinating concepts even when time is limited. This is a book you can read “on the go” that offers you some “food for thought” to ponder over while you’re commuting or have a few minutes to kill.

history lessons

Holiday offers mini history lessons in this book. He uses various historical figures from around the globe and from various time periods to illustrate his point of how ego has impacted people’s lives. Holiday manages to explain and justify his ideas through various interesting examples that have impacted individuals and communities throughout history.

This book is for you if…

  • You enjoy Malcolm Gladwell books – The format is very similar and as Gladwell so craftily does, Holiday manages to use various examples throughout history to illustrate his point.
  • You are a leader of an organization or a coach – This book offers tangible advice on how to overcome your ego and deal with the egos of your teammates
  • You are feeling lost in life – this book can help you find yourself and help you recognize what your purpose is