The Crucial Difference Between Confidence and Ego: One Is Earned, the Other Is Imagined
The advertising legend Ryan Holiday, who maintains a humble profile, speaks to the difference between confidence and ego, exposing the latter as a thin veneer concealing weakness.
Ryan Holiday is a media strategist and prominent writer on strategy and business. After dropping out of college at 19 to apprentice under Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power, he went on to advise many bestselling authors and multiplatinum musicians. He served as director of marketing at American Apparel for many years, where his campaigns have been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube, and Google and written about in AdAge, the New York Times, and Fast Company. His first book, Trust Me I’m Lying—which the Financial Times called an “astonishing, disturbing book”—was a debut bestseller and is taught in colleges around the world. He is the author of two other books and is now published in 16 languages. He lives in Austin, Texas.
Ryan Holiday: One of the things that psychologists talk about is threatened egotism, what happens with someone who has a very strong sense of ego is challenged in some fundamental way. So you can take – one of the stories I tell in the book that I think is interesting is there's this famous encounter between Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. And in an attempt to intimidate her in a state meeting he had heard that she was afraid of dogs. So he lets a dog come into the room in an attempt at basically to intimidate and to scare her. And so if Angela Merkel had been coming from a place of ego and obviously from fear she's going to react to this sort of petty attempt at intimidation with perhaps an attempt of her own with some saber rattling with any number of these things.
But instead she's got a sense of confidence I would say instead of ego that she's not going to react emotionally to this. She's not going to take it as a threat to her honor. It's not going to escalate into being more than what it is, in fact she ends up making a joke about it and it makes Putin look like the weaker bully in this case. But you can see how a different leader when this is revealed, when this attempt to do something is revealed would react in a dangerous way. You could think of one of the examples they use when they talk about threatened egotism is like a gang member whose honor is impugned, the way that they respond is obviously terrible for both parties involved. They escalate a verbal wound into violence and makes a non-serious situation into a serious one. And so what I'm trying to talk about then is if we have this sensitive ego and we're able to be wounded and instead of looking at that wound and sort of seeing it for what it is, we have to react emotionally. We have to react to compensate for the way that we feel that we've been harmed. It can create really dangerous situations very quickly. And often we think ego is supposed to be strength, but in fact it's a just a sort of veneer for a profound weakness and it's the compensation for that that creates bad situations.
There's a wonderful Bill Walsh quote about ego he says, "Ego is when self confidence becomes arrogance, self-assertiveness becomes reckless abandon and so forth." He saying it's sort of passed the point of any reasonable utility. Confidence is great, arrogance is not great. Or Sero Connolly is saying ego like cancer is sort of an over assertion of cells and that's sort of what I see ego is. It's great to believe in yourself, the problem is when your belief in yourself is not based on anything real. And so that's the enemy of trying to do basically anything that requires interacting with other people.
If you're creative and you're not able to take feedback because your ego is either so strong or you're not able to take feedback because you don't care what anyone thinks your work is not going to get any better. If you don't care about your audience, you don't understand who they are and what's going on in their life because you lack empathy, which is another symptom of ego, your work is going to suffer. If you can't work with other people because you're selfish and you have to be the center of attention at all times you're not going to have a team around you. So it basically makes anything that we're trying to do harder than it already is.
The ability to believe in oneself is great, but when that belief is over-asserted or based on delusions, ego, or "the enemy" as author and media strategist Ryan Holiday calls it, arises. Holiday's newest book Ego is the Enemy is an anthropology of the ego, and it shows that while confidence enables one to strive forward and reach new heights, ego can be detrimental and stunt accomplishment.
Ego can cause people to react emotionally and with reckless abandon when challenged even slightly. Being so arrogant to the point of being unable to receive any feedback, or lacking the empathy needed to care about doing a great job, puts that person at a severe disadvantage; nobody wants to work with someone like that, and when interactions with peers become nearly impossible, the quality of the work decreases.
Take a famous egotist like Steve Jobs. There’s no doubt that Jobs was a genius, but his need for control and compulsion for everything to be exactly the way he wanted it led to his tumultuous relationship with Apple. While Jobs revolutionized personal computing and created an iconic brand, his ego made him so impossible to work with that he was eventually forced out of the Macintosh department, his pride and joy. Apple is a huge success thanks to Jobs' genius, but his humiliation came at the hands of his ego. Perhaps the common conception is true, that Jobs only succeeded because he was so controlling and aggressive in his vision, but imagine what more he may have achieved had he been an open and pleasant person to work with.
Holiday also points out that this inability to process information rationally leaves caverns of room for dangerous situations. To an egotist, something as simple as an insult can trigger a compulsion for retribution that could quickly spiral out of control, and in a world where arrogance is often mistaken for strength, an egotist in power could have some detrimental ramifications.
Ryan Holiday’s most recent book is Ego is the Enemy.
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
The images and our best computer models don't agree.
A trio of intriguing galaxy clusters<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzNDA0OS9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYxNTkzNzUyOH0.0IRzkzvKsmPEHV-v1dqM1JIPhgE2W-UHx0COuB0qQnA/img.jpg?width=980" id="d69be" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2d2664d9174369e0a06540cb3a3a9079" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The three galaxy clusters imaged for the study
Mapping dark matter<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="d904b585c806752f261e1215014691a6"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/fO0jO_a9uLA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span><p>The assumption has been that the greater the lensing effect, the higher the concentration of dark matter.</p><p>As scientists analyzed the clusters' large-scale lensing — the massive arc and elongation visual effects produced by dark matter — they noticed areas of smaller-scale lensing within that larger distortion. The scientists interpret these as concentrations of dark matter within individual galaxies inside the clusters.</p><p>The researchers used spectrographic data from the VLT to determine the mass of these smaller lenses. <a href="https://www.oas.inaf.it/en/user/pietro.bergamini/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Pietro Bergamini</a> of the INAF-Observatory of Astrophysics and Space Science in Bologna, Italy explains, "The speed of the stars gave us an estimate of each individual galaxy's mass, including the amount of dark matter." The leader of the spectrographic aspect of the study was <a href="http://docente.unife.it/docenti-en/piero.rosati1/curriculum?set_language=en" target="_blank">Piero Rosati</a> of the Università degli Studi di Ferrara, Italy who recalls, "the data from Hubble and the VLT provided excellent synergy. We were able to associate the galaxies with each cluster and estimate their distances." </p><p>This work allowed the team to develop a thoroughly calibrated, high-resolution map of dark matter concentrations throughout the three clusters.</p>
But the models say...<p>However, when the researchers compared their map to the concentrations of dark matter computer models predicted for galaxies bearing the same general characteristics, something was <em>way</em> off. Some small-scale areas of the map had 10 times the amount of lensing — and presumably 10 times the amount of dark matter — than the model predicted.</p><p>"The results of these analyses further demonstrate how observations and numerical simulations go hand in hand," notes one team member, <a href="https://nena12276.wixsite.com/elenarasia" target="_blank">Elena Rasia</a> of the INAF-Astronomical Observatory of Trieste, Italy. Another, <a href="http://adlibitum.oats.inaf.it/borgani/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Stefano Borgani</a> of the Università degli Studi di Trieste, Italy, adds that "with advanced cosmological simulations, we can match the quality of observations analyzed in our paper, permitting detailed comparisons like never before."</p><p>"We have done a lot of testing of the data in this study," Meneghetti says, "and we are sure that this mismatch indicates that some physical ingredient is missing either from the simulations or from our understanding of the nature of dark matter." <a href="https://physics.yale.edu/people/priyamvada-natarajan" target="_blank">Priyamvada Natarajan</a> of Yale University in Connecticut agrees: "There's a feature of the real Universe that we are simply not capturing in our current theoretical models."</p><p>Given that any theory in science lasts only until a better one comes along, Natarajan views the discrepancy as an opportunity, saying, "this could signal a gap in our current understanding of the nature of dark matter and its properties, as these exquisite data have permitted us to probe the detailed distribution of dark matter on the smallest scales."</p><p>At this point, it's unclear exactly what the conflict signifies. Do these smaller areas have unexpectedly high concentrations of dark matter? Or can dark matter, under certain currently unknown conditions, produce a tenfold increase in lensing beyond what we've been expecting, breaking the assumption that more lensing means more dark matter?</p><p>Obviously, the scientific community has barely begun to understand this mystery.</p>
Scientists have found evidence of hot springs near sites where ancient hominids settled, long before the control of fire.
Astronomers spot an object heading into Earth orbit.
Minimoons<p>Scientists have confirmed just two prior minimoons. One was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2006_RH120" target="_blank">2006 RH120</a>, which orbited us from September 2006 to June 2007. The other was <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020_CD3" target="_blank">2020 CD3</a>, which got stuck in the 2015–2016 timeframe, and is believed to gotten away in May 2020.</p><p>2020 SO, the new kid on the block, is expected to arrive in October 2020 and pop out of orbit in May 2021.</p><div id="37962" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4c0fc8a2cba6536ea4cd960ebed3e6e"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1307729521869611008" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Asteroid 2020 SO may get captured by Earth from Oct 2020 - May 2021. Current nominal trajectory shows shows capture… https://t.co/F5utxRvN6Z</div> — Tony Dunn (@Tony Dunn)<a href="https://twitter.com/tony873004/statuses/1307729521869611008">1600621989.0</a></blockquote></div>
Identifying 2020 SO<p>The first clue 2020 SO isn't your ordinary asteroid is its exceptionally low velocity. It's traveling much more slowly that a typical asteroid — their <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank">average rate of travel</a> <a href="https://www.lpi.usra.edu/exploration/training/illustrations/craterMechanics/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"></a>is 18 kilometers (58,000 feet) per second. Even <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rock" target="_blank">moon rocks</a> sent careening into Earth orbit by impacts on the lunar surface outpace pokey 2020 SO.</p><p>For another thing, 2020 SO has an orbital path very similar to Earth's, lasting about one Earth year. It's also just slightly less circular than our own orbit, from which it's barely tilted off-axis.</p><p>So, what is it? <a href="https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/ca/" target="_blank">NASA estimates</a> that the object has dimensions very reminiscent of a discarded Centaur rocket stage from the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surveyor_2" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Surveyor 2 mission</a> that landed an unmanned craft on the moon. Back in the day, rocket stages were jettisoned as craft were aimed toward their desired position. This stuff, if released high enough, remains in space. It appears that this Centaur rocket, launched in September 1966, is now making its way back homeward, at least for a little bit.</p><p>When 2020 SO arrives at its closest point in December, the rocket is expected to be about 50,000 kilometers from Earth. Its next closest approach is much further: 220,000 kilometers, in February 2010.</p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNDQzMDk3NC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyODg1MTQ1MX0.HGknDwqp0GmeuczKY_AS7vrPG7KMFUc_XO95tNoI2xo/img.jpg?width=980" id="e5cda" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="85eb1f790d8c3ee5b261f7ba13eaa5e1" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="Centaur rocket stage" />
Centaur rocket stage
What we may be able to learn<p>Earthly space programs being as young as they are, scientists would love to know what's happened to our rocket during a half century in space.</p><p>While 2020 SO won't get close enough to drop into our atmosphere, its slow progress has scientists hopeful that they'll still get some kind of a decent look at it.</p><p>Spectroscopy may be able to reveal what the rocket's surface is like now — has any of its paint survived, for example? Of course, being out in space, it's likely to have been hit by lots of dust and micrometeorites, so the current state of its surfaces is also of interest. Experts are curious to know how reflective the rocket is at this point, valuable information that can help planners of future long-term missions anticipate how well a craft out in space for extended periods will remain able to reflect sunlight.</p>
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