The Narrative Fallacy

March 10, 2008 — 69 Comments

When I first moved to LA, I didn’t have enough money to buy a bed. I borrowed an IKEA futon and slept on the floor for almost two months. I was so stressed and scared that I would wake up in the middle of the night just soaked in sweat. My parents practically disowned me.

Here’s the thing, I could make that all into some dramatic story – like it was this harrowing experience that stays with me – but to be frank, I have almost no recollection of that time. Not because I blocked it out or anything, but because it didn’t seem worth remembering. I worked through it and now I’ve got things back where I like them.

The more painful the initiation, the more likely we are to want to stick with the program. The more inspiring and metaphoric we make our stories, the less they seem to resemble the dull and comfortably literal world that the rest of us live in. We start to think that we’re different, that the laws don’t apply to us – that all we have to do is let manifest destiny take its course. This denies the fundamental role of hard work and sacrifice and luck in everything. Narration conveniently ignores the day we laid around and watched tv and the week where we were sure we were going to quit but didn’t. It’s just not honest.

I guess I could slowly trick myself into thinking that my first few real months in LA will end up molding who I am. “Oh to be be young and driven…” But then I’m more attached to the path I’ve embarked on, those become hard, sunk costs. I’ll start to think that that was the “right way” as opposed to a way and my judgment will be clouded and off.

The fact of the matter is this: I’m 20. I have a cool job that was not without its tradeoffs. I wake up and sometimes I’m super motivated, sometimes I’m not. I’ve been doing it for a while. I’ve had days where I thought to myself that it was over and others where I leaped way ahead. That sounds a lot different than the 200 word biography I could type up for myself if I wanted to impress someone.

There is this Stoic exercise where you break apart something sacred into its most basic parts. When you see how unromantic it really is, the object loses all power over you – you maintain the sovereignty of self. Marcus does this throughout Meditations: sex is rubbing and semen, the cloak of the Emperor differs only in color, death is but the end of feeling.

Shit like prodigy or lucky or “destined for big things” and whatever other superlatives I hear are stories. Just stories. And stories are worthless because they’re mental creations – they are not reality. In ten years, you tell me what bank is going to cash a protégé label. Yours are different but the same.

No question, the use of story is a persuasive tactic. But why? Because they please and pleasure the senses. When stories are applied to self-perception, they are called delusions.

I don’t think the idea is to strip the meaning and specialness out of life. There is still very much a purpose and uniqueness in us. That is innate. But humbleness, clarity, and restraint – those are learned and practiced forms of excellence. They are the extension of honesty. This doesn’t mean you’re unappreciative or pessimistic. Or good food turns to ash in your mouth. That you have to hate the things you want to like. It doesn’t change so much how you live life, as much as it does how you talk about it.

Still, that is not easy either. We are wired to think a certain way – linearly, towards purpose, in terms of justification. Ambivalence, in the jungle, was death. The mind strives for congruency and lashes out violently when there isn’t any. It’s also why people wake up one day and have no idea how the world works anymore. That’s why people say things like “Do you have any idea who I am?” with a straight face.

Resisting the urge to tell yourself stories is difficult. It’s depressing. You fuck up and do it all the time. And occasionally, with little things, that’s OK. Mixed with my self-loathing, I’m often overwhelmed. And tired. And feel like quitting. I have trouble really putting to words how much I struggle with whether its worth it – but if I didn’t say that, I wouldn’t be being honest. It works for me because I work at it but just barely.

I don’t think it’s a fight you can win on your own – it takes people on both sides, cynical and optimistic to keep you centered. Living in delusion is a short-term strategy – simply unsustainable. My philosophy, and it’s one that’s working pretty well is this: There are more than enough people willing to tell your story for you if its good enough. In the meantime, I’ve too much other stuff I need to work on.

.

Ryan Holiday

I'm a strategist for bestselling authors and billion dollar brands like American Apparel, Tucker Max and Robert Greene. My work has been used as case studies by Twitter, YouTube and Google and has been written about in AdAge, the New York Times, Gawker and Fast Company.

69 responses to The Narrative Fallacy

  1. Why would you sleep on the floor if you had a futon?

  2. Really, really great post, man. The idea that “But I’m Special” just isn’t enough: It seemed like you were touching on this issue briefly in a couple of your posts over the last few weeks, and it’s great to see it elaborated upon and really brought home.

    Seriously excellent stuff.

  3. The post isn’t without merit, but here, and in others, you’re just so rigid-seeming in your “rules for us all to live by”.

    It’s entirely possible to honor your struggles – in story, in song, in conversation – and still know the score.

  4. Jesus Fucking Christ. Do you have any idea how myopic and pedantic and annoying you are? Does it make you feel better to leave dozens of weaseling and pretentious comments? Enough.

    • This is such a useful post. So far, I’ve forced myself to look back on the “rougher” days in order to reaffirm my melodramatic heroic entrepreneur narrative. I like the idea of mostly forgetting about it better.

      I’ll be back to read more.

  5. I really enjoyed this post. I think it boils down to the importance of removing all metaphysical sentimentality, to seeing things as emotionlessly as possible. This is very hard when you are young, so when a young person attempts it, he/she will stand out like a green hat with an orange bill. We’re conditioned to feed off of our emotions, to be slaves to them, to do what they say, to despise those who are not overtly emotional creatures. The result is confusion and fucking chaos; exactly the sorts of people who cannot create their own values or challenge preconceptions. It’s unfortunate that all but complete mastery of disciplined, strategic living is dismissed. People respect results; they do not respect process and progress. This is incredibly frustrating, because they themselves are nowhere near embarking on self-overcoming. Instead of recognizing and respecting it in another, they run away from it, until it has reached perfection and can dictate to them. At least that’s my interpretation. Keep feeding the beast, Ryan, it’s good stuff.

  6. I won’t comment anymore.

  7. We all look forward to your new pseudonyms.

  8. “Jesus Fucking Christ. Do you have any idea how myopic and pedantic and annoying you are? Does it make you feel better to leave dozens of weaseling and pretentious comments? Enough.”

    Ryan, I strongly recall your calling out one Hollie Toner on her refusal to engage her readership in a comment forum. For you to dismiss a commenter who “annoys” you is hypocrisy. For somebody who claims to want to transcend his “protegy” label, you seem to be anxious to surround yourself with a chorus of well-wishers. And you’re veering dangerously close to hypocrisy in calling ANYONE pedantic and pretentious.

    Seriously, have you read your blog? Like, really read it?

    Ryan, we both know you think you’re better than this. How about growing the fuck up and proving it?

  9. Hey Ryan,

    Can you provide the page numbers (or better yet a link) to those passages in the mediations?

  10. Lot of noise in the comments section.

    You included a lot of nuance in this post that I really appreciate, so thanks for that.

  11. Well that took about 9 seconds.

    Criticism is fantastic, but only when it comes from people who know what they are talking about. What I don’t need is some idiot troll to come around and leave me his nonsensical pearls of wisdom so he can feel more important.

  12. I recall Mr. Wiggles getting banned from the RMMB for being an idiot.

    My father’s put in an enormous amount of work and come through a lot of bullcrap to get where he is. However, I have had to assemble every ridiculous story of what he went through from other people and random comments because to him, they don’t matter enough to sit down and tell his kids. I genuinely believe that he does not have an internal history or narrative of himself at all.

    All that matters is what’s next and how he/we are going to do it.

  13. Ryan,

    Wow. I think this is your best post yet. You nailed it here:

    “We are wired to think a certain way – linearly, towards purpose, in terms of justification. Ambivalence, in the jungle, was death. The mind strives for congruency and lashes out violently when there isn’t any. It’s also why people wake up one day and have no idea how the world works anymore. That’s why people say things like “Do you have any idea who I am?” with a straight face.”

    I don’t share your cynical attitude towards the role of narrative in the way we shape our worlds, but I do see the danger in letting self-delusion become a crutch.

    My conclusion is that, right or wrong, we must use narrative to understand our own, and others’, experience. But telling an honest story, as you point out, is difficult.

    To the haters: Why the vitriol? If you disagree, why not describe your problems with the post and open a discussion? Ad hominem attacks just reveal a failing on your part.

  14. Ryan,

    How would you describe your childhood, if not as a narrative? By a narrative I mean a series of significant events you still remember as an adult. Aren’t those moments the basis of your conception of self? Or is that not what you mean by a narrative?

  15. For what it’s worth amphibian, I didn’t get banned. And I’m not close to an idiot. That’s neither here nor there, and that doesn’t excuse Ryan Holiday (who has little to do with the message board, in any event) from being a pretentious prick to the same readership that not only makes him money but is the basis for at least part of his self-worth.

    This smacks of the same ivory tower elitism that he so often rails against. And it’s way, way worse to pick and choose which of your commenters have merit than simply to choose not to allow commenting at all. Just because you don’t agree with somebody doesn’t mean they don’t “know what they’re talking about” and the comment section of this blog so often veers into onanism that I’m worried that I might have to start posting a subscription fee.

    Ryan, you know what a fatal flaw is, don’t you?

  16. Anonymous-

    I think Ryan means that prettying up the events in our lives, in a narrated story, distances ourselves from the reality: that the world doesn’t care how metaphorical or potent we can narrate our lives to ourselves or others. What the “Narrative Fallacy” says to me is that a better way to develop a concept of self is to understand the most rudimentary, and therefore truthful, elements in what we see as remarkable in our experiences.

    Living the Narrative Fallacy is asking the world to acknowledge and receive you which isn’t going to happen. Mark Twain put that false sense of entitlement as “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first,” and I think it fits here.

  17. Amphibian – Mr Wiggles has as far as I can see, only ever been banned for daring to shittalk about Kentucky’s basketball program in Tucker’s presence. Unless it was a long time ago, or a different user name, he’s never been given a permaban for rampant stupidity.

    I think he’s wrong on this point. But why fall back on an unfounded appeal to past events when everything you need to make your point is here?

    Read MBS’ comments, skim back through some posts if you’ve forgotten them (and they are highly forgettable) and ask yourself if it contributes to anything at all?

    I’ve never seen Ryan refuse to engage with his readers, I know Ryan has never refused to engage with me even when I disagree with him. There’s a firm difference between refusing to engage, and discouraging stupidity.

    That said, I think there’s certainly value in Ryan being called on his shit occasionally. Cause the dude is 20 – and while he is unquestionably smart and ‘gets it’ – at 20, he’s still going to get caught in his own arrogance, he’s still going to misjudge things, and he’s still going to fuck things up and need to be called on it before he’ll get it. You can’t be 20 and smart without being arrogant. You can’t be told that you ‘get it’ by miscellaneous smart people (and morons from the internet) at 20 without starting to scorn the morons who don’t get it.

    Ryan has what I describe as Tech Support syndrome – he constantly deals with complicated concepts that relate to the lives of everybody he encounters, and he, and those around him, have internalized those ideas so soundly, that the people who can’t follow those concepts through in a logical and sensible way, seem like fucking retards.

    Tech support monkeys get shot down by a smart customer, college prodigies tend to be humbled by a professor they idolize or something. Or the lesson comes from parents or an employer or something.

    Ryan’s stepped away from his parents, and I don’t think Tucker is the sort of person to demonstrate the lesson. I don’t know where Ryan’s going to get the right sort of experience to cure him of that experience and give him perspective – but I’ll be interested to read the story when it happens.

  18. Unrelated to the post, thank you for introducing me to Ben Corman’s work.

    Concerning the unwelcomed comments, remember that “critics are the instruments of the philosopher and for that very reason, being instruments, a long ways from being philosophers themselves”.

  19. Scootah is someone who knows what he is talking about. And he’s right about a lot of what he said. But seriously, how often have I said that I surround myself with people who call me out on my bullshit? That’s not something I made up.

  20. I always applaud the honesty in your posts–what you’re thinking, experiencing, and interpreting. Honesty like this will always draw extollers and detractors. You could get use to it. You could fight it. Whatever your ultimate aim for communicating all of these things is, hopefully you’ll deal with it in a fashion that helps you get to where you want to go.

  21. Mr. Holiday,

    I am going to have to agree with your detractors here. Criticism is good, and you have mentioned that you like it, and I’ve seen you criticized bloggers who don’t allow comments, but to go off on comments who don’t like something you have to say goes against your own words. Address them critically and smart instead of just going off. You’ve said it on numerous occasions, and then you go against your own words, making no sense. I’ve seen it even more on the Power, seduction and War Forum where if somebody disagrees with you or makes you look stupid, you throw a fit and threaten to close the topic, passing their comments off as your favorite phrase, “Cognitive Dissonance”. I don’t know if your knowingly doing this, or perhaps by mistake, a youthful mistake, or perhaps your taking a page from 48 Laws, Lind, and Boyd about being unpredictable to set people, maybe even some readers, off balance. As one of your own mentors RG might say, there is a value in such unpredictability. Perhaps you are trying to polarize people knowingly because it helps with traffic and notoriety. If you are doing the latter, then I can understand why. But if you just are doing it unknowingly, I would rethink some things. Who knows what your doing? But this is what I am seeing. I’ve seen you do it on your own comments a couple of times. Have you took a step back and noticed how narcissistic your posts come off as. Some would say they smack of elitism. Your 20. Take a step back; you don’t have to take yourself so seriously all the time. Unbutton your collar for a moment. You may think your some superhuman genius, and may profess to be one in your writing, but it is seriously hurting how this reader — and some others maybe? — perceive you. Unless you want to be perceived as that, which may be your goal. Everyybody has got to have an angle, a shtick, i guess. Of course, just because you may be smarter than the rest of us doesn’t mean you have to wear your IQ on your sleeve and degrade others who disagree with you, or you perceive unintelligent, unless your sole purpose it to polarize some readers. Me, for instance, I like some of your posts, and think you have talent, but

    many I find idiotic, or extremely similar to other blogs like Blog Maverick or Seth’s Blog. Your blog today seems very similar to one of Blog Maverick’s recent postings. I often find myself reading your blog just to see how narcissistic your next post will be. Usually that is a bad thing, but it did bring the traffic of this reader in, and maybe that is the whole strategy? Or maybe not. I’m not Ryan Holiday.

    Either way, I think you need to take a step away from your work and see how unlikeable your voice is to a lot of people. To me, you have good ideas, but your voice seems to be just like all the other bloggers out there blogging about the what the new media is allowing the little people todo, how it is crumbling the old institutions, yada, yada, — you get the point. The only difference is you come off as an elitist, headstrong, 20 year old. If you have older readers, most of them probably realize it and say nothing, because they know you will learn in time, but I’m telling you now to save you some time.

    Ryan, I’ve been in your shoes.

    Realize that this is just an opinion of one reader, and I’ve tried to make it constructive enough to meet your standards. I could be wrong.

    Peace out.

  22. Steve, for the love of god, paragraphs. Two, maybe three sentence paragraphs. It’s a comment, not a dissertation.

  23. Tech support syndrome is something I often experience. Scootah, thanks for introducing me to the concept.

    I think that Scootah’s point is that there’s a difference between having your bullshit called in a limited fashion and having all or most of your bullshit pointed out. You might have a group of people around you who will point out pretty much everything you do wrong in certain fields while other errors can slide under the radar.

    Then there’s the people like Wiggles/mbs whose default position is to snipe or troll regardless of whether or not they’re right.

    “And it’s way, way worse to pick and choose which of your commenters have merit than simply to choose not to allow commenting at all. Just because you don’t agree with somebody doesn’t mean they don’t “know what they’re talking about” and the comment section of this blog so often veers into onanism that I’m worried that I might have to start posting a subscription fee.”

    Thus far, I am disinclined to believe that you, Mr. Wiggles, are someone worth listening to. It’s my opinion that you were given an e-vacation not really because you talked shit about Kentucky, but because you did it badly and for no other reason than to be a troll – which is the same thing you’re doing here.

  24. *Sigh*

    Bringing up the RMMB, which Ryan Holiday has LITTLE TO NOTHING TO DO WITH, isn’t strengthening your points. Especially since, even in that ridiculous little insular world, I had a whole mess of “rep points”, which I would say kinda goes against the whole troll trope you’re trying to push. Your point is both invalid and unsound.

    I’m hardly a serial commenter. I made one point about Ryan’s lack of willingness to engage with a certain sector of his readership. That’s it. And you haven’t really addressed my point at all. My point isn’t that mbs or even that I “get it”. My point is that from Ryan is essentially doing the exact same thing he (correctly, I think) called V out on.

    Ryan is doing essentially the exact same thing he (correctly, I think) called V out on.

    I repeated it because (based on your bizarre ad hominems)don’t really seem to “get it”. That’s ok.

    I mean, you’re no Ryan Holiday.

    (Maybe mbs deserved to be put down. I don’t know. I was just pointing out what appeared to be an inconsistency.)

    Love,

    Mr. Wiggles

  25. Your excellent post reminded me of this quote:

    “Greatness is a transistory experience. It is never consistent. It depends in part upon the myth-making imagination of humankind. The person who experiences greatness must have a feeling for the myth he is in. He must reflect what is projected upon him. And he must have a strong sense of the sardonic. This is what uncouples him from belief in his own pretensions. The sardonic is all that permits him to move within himself. Without this quality, even occasionaly greatness will destroy a man.”

    From Dune, a science fiction novel by Frank Herbert. (Which reminded me of The Godfather, with the remarks on power. Though not quite as good as Puzo, sadly.)

  26. “It’s entirely possible to honor your struggles – in story, in song, in conversation – and still know the score.”

    You sound like someone that would annoy the shit out of me in person. Unless you’re talking to your mom, most people could not care less about how fucking awesome you are.

    Everyone shits, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone gets ahead of themselves sometimes. I don’t think this post is an example of that. A guy that uses the word “self-loathing” to describe himself is probably aware of his faults.

    “Of course, just because you may be smarter than the rest of us doesn’t mean you have to wear your IQ on your sleeve and degrade others who disagree with you, or you perceive unintelligent, unless your sole purpose it to polarize some readers.”

    http://www.ryanholiday.net/archives/making_due.phtml

  27. I thought this was an excellent post, but maybe that’s just because it was relevant to me. I partake in the “narrative fallacy” a lot. It is motivated by a desire to avoid how mundane and dull a lot of things actually are. It is also motivated by a desire to pretend that everything has a purpose, which is simply not true. This is a highly valuable post.

  28. Ah, mr wiggles. I know your kind. You can’t figure out whether you’re envious of Ryan or just angry with him for not caring about you. I mean, if you don’t care – why keep going? Why continue with this bullshit no-one’s going to bother about?

    And yes, Wiggles. Ryan has nothing to do with the messageboard. Which is why he posts frequently and is, I believe, a moderator.

    Oh, and PS: Steve, you obviously haven’t been in his shoes, or you wouldn’t have the time in your day to post such drivel.

    • You’re attacking him on things that have nothing to do with the purpose of his comments. Yet you still offer nothing to address his stated concerns.
      Hmmh, it’s almost as if you are attacking him to distract attention away from his question so no one will notice that you didn’t address it – could this possibly be because you don’t have a fucking clue what the hell you’re talking about?
      You are an arrogant & condescending idiot. You missed the whole point completely.

  29. Good post, but it left me wondering: does a stoic derive no pleasure from the unknown? You said that “I don’t think the idea is to strip the meaning and specialness out of life. There is still very much a purpose and uniqueness in us. That is innate.” However, is the goal of stoicism to understand and define all (or at least a great many) aspects of life?

  30. The saddest part of the Meditations is where Marcus is reminding himself not to enjoy music. I think that’s perverted the purpose of the exercise and missing the point.

    It’s not meant to strip the specialness out of life, instead it’s supposed to take power away from the things that have power over us. For example, if a kid is afraid of the dark you turn on the lights and show them that everything is fine. You don’t crush their imagination, you just prevent it from becoming unhealthy.

    Stoicism in my opinion cuts out the crap [say telling yourself stories that are untrue] so you can focus on what matters.

  31. I think I’ve approached the same issue from a different perspective, which I dubbed “soundtrack syndrome”. I would be listening to a cool song and I almost couldn’t help myself at one point imagining a situation in the future in which I’m in some cool place in life, being very successful in something, and the song is there, shaping the atmosphere so to speak, making it all Rocky-like or zen-ish or whatever. Then the cold reality hits and you’re back to the here and now, which takes actual work. The soundtrack syndrome annoys me to no end and I ruthlessly try to ignore it. I think I’m down to the point where, when it happens, I sort of say to myself “Ok, you’ve indulged in that motherfucker for a moment. You’ve got the smug I’ll-do-big-things-in-life shiteating grin. Now wipe it off, get the pink fluff out of your eyes and remind yourself about the amount of hard work that must happen and why this PROCESS is worth it, why it is a good pain, which will break you down and teach you discipline, simplicity and humbleness, so that by the time you get to where you thought you want to be, you’ll already be a bigger person with a new, better path.”

    The movies, the numerous stereotypes about life and how it works, so many things have moved us away from realizing and appreciating the importance of the process to getting somewhere, that that “somewhere” is never as simple as we make it seem, that there is value in the obstacles along the way, and that you, and thus the “somewhere”, WILL change and broaden and improve along the way, if you just take care to observe yourself.

    This is connected to some many things, for instance to the story of external and internal motivation and what you should and shouldn’t allow to affect you, and I know all these things are intertwined, but at one point it gets hard to remind yourself about all the ways you should and shouldn’t think and direct your actions. I’m thinking of making my own little Meditations, compiled from the thoughts of Marcus and other wise people, making a sort of 10 Ruthless but oh-so-true-and-useful Commandments list and trying to follow them religiously. I’ve been doing this half-consciously so far, I’d like to see what happens when I make a dozen or so of them set in stone.

  32. Did the futon question get answered yet? I didn’t see it through all the BS on this page.

    Thank you!

  33. Sleeping on a floor or a futon for so long can lead to a bad back.

  34. Actually I enjoy the whole battle taking place within this blog.But is it really worth it?
    I mean,don’t you all have things to do except entertaining me with your commnets?

    By the way I would like for Ryan to comment not on personalities of the past but of public figures of the present.Lady Gaga and Silvio Berlusconi could be a good start.

    Have you noticed that Greene and Ryan don’t treat modern personalities as they treat famous guys from the past? That is because Herman Cortes can’t sue you or prove you wrong,so you have no fear.But you have fear for others to leave your blog after seeing that you don’t seem that infallible when writing about you-know,modern stuff.

    Also I see that Greene doesn’t comment that much about business.Power,Seduction and War can be really abstract some times.But business?GREENE I AM TALKING TO YOU KNOW-you need huge balls to comment on business due to the heavy research you got to undertake and the complexity of the issue.

    Everybody is a Prince these days…

    Go for it Ryan!!!!! We adore your work!!

  35. This is a topic that really hits home for me. Since I was a kid I was fairly sharp, I read everything and was good at telling stories to others to gain advantage. Unfortunately, as you mentioned, this is detrimental when turned inwards, I believe I’ve deluded myself into thinking my life and the future were much easier than the cold hard reality is. When I inspected it recently, it almost made me fall into depression – I am willing to bet those that can’t face their reality are the ones who get lost in their worlds and in turn end up with a substance abuse issue and a reality tv gig.

    But here is the thing, cold hard world seems like a shitty place to live in, and there are events and cause-effect chains that blow one’s mind. So where is that balance?

    Also, could you recommend your top 2 books/articles to read on this topic (seems stoicism is the cure here?)

    Thank you

    • It came to me as I gave it more thought, the reason why I stand by the idea that some detachment from reality is a good thing. You obviously know Tucker Max, as do I. And you, me and he would agree that bending certain societal rules via creative thinking is advantageous.

      So here is where I’m going with this – the detachment from reality (more as in accepted practices) had benefited me greatly, from going after the best looking girls to believing I could pull of XYZ, in spite of odds, or not having experience. TIm Ferris comes to mind here as well.

      Of course going overboard with this is the real danger, but in what doses is this THE strategy – it seems that having the ability to view things logically and then turn on the creative side and do things differently would be the way to go, no?

      • I don’t see any significant connection between being detached from reality and bending certain societal rules. In fact, it’s living in hyper-realism, intimately aware of what things are and why there are that way that lets you see through bullshit conventions and pointless rules.

    • I read Empire of Illusion recently by Chris Hughes. I liked it a lot.

  36. Will you help me with my brand please?

  37. In another post, Ryan advises to say less, and leave the crazy at home. Reading these comments hit that home!

    Takeaway: don’t let your narrative own you. You make the story you want to have. To do that, don’t wallow in the past – just do it.

  38. I believe this is a subsection of something I read recently, “Most people think their reactions to reality are reality.” The shortest pithiest idea I have read in a long time. There is a school of psychotherapy called “Deconstructionism”, whose primary focus is the deconstruction of the narrative of their childhood/life that people have created about themselves. As a hypnotherapist it is my job to help people alter their beliefs/perceptions , especially the ones they are not aware of, so as to free them from false assumptions, beliefs etc, that create inner traps, unresolvable conflicts for them, etc., and these stories are among them. I wish I had been cognisant of these kind of issues at 20 yrs old, good luck to you Ryan, and enjoy your arrogant youth right now, in case it doesn’t last as some here suggest. Hypnohotshot

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  6. You’re Not a Genius | RyanHoliday.net - April 19, 2012

    [...] wasn’t, it couldn’t be. So we hold ourselves back when we fall in love with the narrative that we will walk into a room full of people who have done this longer than we have and dazzle them [...]

  7. Welcome to Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator | RyanHoliday.net - July 18, 2012

    [...] those of you new to me and my writing altogether, here are some of my post popular posts: The Narrative Fallacy (also see The Soundtrack of Your Life Delusion and The Second Act Fallacy) Advice to a Young [...]

  8. A New Approach to Goal Setting (Introduction, and Reservations) | The Blog of J.D. Moyer - November 27, 2012

    [...] thought I was free of this kind of thinking, until I read this short post by Ryan Holiday. He points out that buying into any kind of “narrative arc” thinking [...]

  9. Advice To A Young Man Hoping To Go Somewhere (Or Get Something From Someone Successful) - April 16, 2013

    [...] might still flame out or be assholes. What does this mean? It means don’t get high on yourself. Don’t tell yourself a story. Be quiet, work hard, and stay healthy. It’s not ambition or skill that is going to set you [...]

  10. Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com - April 16, 2013

    [...] still flame out or be assholes. What does this mean? It means don’t get high on yourself. Don’t tell yourself a story. Be quiet, work hard, and stay healthy. It’s not ambition or skill that is going to set you [...]

  11. Life Just Happens | mohnish.net - May 10, 2013

    [...] Shout-out to Ryan for inspiring this post [...]

  12. How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” | Thought Catalog - August 27, 2013

    [...] of my categories for those who are curious: Life. Death. Writing. Stoicism. Strategy. Animals. Narrative Fallacy. Books. Article Ideas. Education. Arguing with Reality. [...]

  13. Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com - August 28, 2013

    [...] of my categories for those who are curious: Life. Death. Writing. Stoicism. Strategy. Animals. Narrative Fallacy. Books. Article Ideas. Education. Arguing with Reality. [...]

  14. The Notecard System: The Key For Remembering, Organizing And Using Everything You Read | Thought Catalog - December 23, 2013

    […] The Narrative Fallacy (Something I’d like to write a book about one day) […]

  15. I’ve stopped forcing a narrative into my life | David Ly Khim - January 19, 2014

    […] felt entitled to an underdog story. One about survival and conflict and, eventually, overcoming […]

  16. How And Why To Keep A “Commonplace Book” | RyanHoliday.net - January 24, 2014

    […] of my categories for those who are curious: Life. Death. Writing. Stoicism. Strategy. Animals. Narrative Fallacy. Books. Article Ideas. Education. Arguing with Reality. […]

  17. The Overthinker’s Guide To Launching Your Next Project Without Wanting To Kill Yourself | Thought Catalog - April 7, 2014

    […] -Despite the narrative in your head, you’re not releasing a blockbuster movie. I repeat, this is not a Hollywood launch. For some reason we all fall into this temptation and it clouds our priorities and prevents success. You don’t need to get all your customers packed into a single week—no newspaper is going to be printing the scores the following Monday. Instead, focus on what matters: attracting the right people early and satisfying them. More will come if you do this right. Think soft opening, not grand opening. […]

  18. Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com - April 7, 2014

    […] -Despite the narrative in your head, you’re not releasing a blockbuster movie. I repeat, this is not a Hollywood launch. For some reason we all fall into this temptation and it clouds our priorities and prevents success. You don’t need to get all your customers packed into a single week—no newspaper is going to be printing the scores the following Monday. Instead, focus on what matters: attracting the right people early and satisfying them. More will come if you do this right. Think soft opening, not grand opening. […]

  19. How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything | Thought Catalog - May 1, 2014

    […] enough pride in the tasks we are given right now. Too often we phone it in, cash our check, and dream of some higher station in life. Or we think, This is just a job, it isn’t who I am, it doesn’t […]

  20. Thinker in Residence – Ryan Holiday on Business & Books « 800 CEO Read - May 8, 2014

    […] been thinking a lot lately about the role of ego and vision. Why does the sweeping narrative work sometimes—but produce catastrophic failure other […]

  21. You’re Not Special, At All | Thought Catalog - June 20, 2014

    […] tell yourself a story. Ryan Holiday calls this the “narrative fallacy.” Don’t rationalize your unproductivity and lack of success as, being a “starving artist.” […]

  22. Only L<3Ve @ ItMakesMeStronger.com - June 21, 2014

    […] tell yourself a story. Ryan Holiday calls this the “narrative fallacy.” Don’t rationalize your unproductivity and lack of success as, being a “starving artist.” […]

  23. Can You Call Yourself A Writer? | Thought Catalog - June 23, 2014

    […] the distinction between who you are and what you do. Too many people make this mistake—I call it the narrative fallacy. It’s thinking: if I buy a typewriter, drink scotch and smoke cigarettes, I’ll be just like […]

  24. Sorry, An Epiphany Isn’t What’s Going To Change Your Life | Thought Catalog - July 1, 2014

    […] think movies and television are partially responsible for this total misconception about the world. Because they can only show scenes, because they can’t get us inside the […]

  25. Advice to a Young Man Who Wants to Go Places | Omaha Sun Times - July 18, 2014

    […] still flame out or be assholes. What does this mean? It means don’t get high on yourself. Don’t tell yourself a story. Be quiet, work hard, and stay healthy. It’s not ambition or skill that is going to set you […]