When I landed an editorial internship with Ryan Holiday in 2018, I felt like I made it. Fame and wealth were on the way!
At the time, I felt like I had accomplished what was necessary and was on my way to the top. What I didn’t know at the time was the heroic responsibility that comes with this type of work, and I momentarily lost sight of my purpose.
What I learned is that the life-changing writing work we do as authors, writers, transformers, and creators is why we do it.
It’s not about getting famous and wealthy. It’s truly not.
It’s about becoming the best version of ourselves and creating work that helps others do the same. The fame and wealth, if meant to be, are by-products.
Now, as you adventure toward your purpose, your why, here are four things I learned while interning with Ryan Holiday that may serve as guides.
1. Do The Work
“Amateurs let adversity defeat them. The pro thinks differently. He shows up, he does his work, he keeps on truckin’, no matter what.” —Steven Pressfield
While interning with Ryan, I did the work.
I researched and wrote articles for Ryan and his daily stoic website. Ryan gave me challenging assignments that helped me grow as a writer, and I completed them all.
I was feeling on top of the world.
What I wasn’t prepared for was the inevitable adversity that rocked me like a hurricane.
“Aspiration leads to success (and adversity). Success creates its own adversity (and, hopefully, new ambitions). And adversity leads to aspiration and more success. It’s an endless loop.” —Ryan Holiday
2. Ego Is The Enemy
“Impressing people is utterly different from being truly impressive.” ― Ryan Holiday
The reason I began writing was because I loved it, but as I found myself working with this brilliant writer, I began feeling the need to impress him.
So I began taking adderall… in large doses.
My writing was on fire, but this process began taking a toll on me. I started comparing my writings to his. I started wondering why he became so successful so early. Here I was, in the middle of this opportunity of a lifetime, blinded by jealousy, envy, and greed—all traits of the ego—while at the same time writing about how ego is the enemy!
What a paradox!
It could have been the adderall, it could have been my immaturity, but the adderall definitely wasn’t helping.
The only way out was through…
3. The Obstacle Is The Way
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” ― Ryan Holiday
For me, adderall was a shortcut I loved taking… until the side effects kicked in like the police on a cold Halloween night.
“The day you stop racing, is the day you win the race.” ― Bob Marley
What I learned from adderall is that there are no true short cuts and that the only race we have is with ourselves. It took a couple of years to realize this, and to finally quit trying to “keep up” by any means.
I stopped taking adderall cold turkey four months ago and feel better than ever. And I’m still learning.
4. Honor Those Who Come Before You
“Every man I meet is my master in some point, and in that I learn of him.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
What ego often prevents us from seeing is that we are all learning from each other. We are all standing upon the shoulders of giants, like Isaac Newton said, especially when great opportunities like this arise.
What I learned from Ryan, and continue to learn, is priceless.
I’m remembering to do the work, focus on my purpose, and not be distracted by The Noise.
Marcus Aurelius words this well when he says:
“Don’t pay attention to other people’s minds. Look straight ahead, where nature is leading you, through the things that happen to you through your own actions.”
Now is the time to think about your purpose.
Where are you going?
How are you getting there?
Why are you doing what you do?
Do The Work.
Ego is the Enemy.
The Obstacle Is the Way.
Honor Those Who Come Before You.