I was vaguely familiar with Ryan Holiday, but didn’t know quite what he was all about. I got a better taste of what he does after listening to him on the Tim Ferriss Show. The show discussed Stoicism at length, which I found interesting as it was a show about marketing. Yet if these two marketing gurus put such an emphasis on the Stoics, they must truly believe in that philosophy.
In fact, the Obstacle is the Way is rooted in Stoicism. Better yet, it is Stoicism.
What Obstacles are You Facing?
What is holding you back in life?
What do you fear?
Why can’t your pursue the things you really want in life and just seize it?
These are tough life questions that many people often find themselves contemplating.
In the Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday (Amazon) he seeks to answer these questions. But he does this not through telling you to engage in new-agey nonsense, rather he uses anecdotes from the most brilliant and successful minds in history, dissects their obstacles and shows you how they overcame.
Whatever we face, we have a choice: Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?”
I want you to think about some of the biggest obstacles that you face right now. Do they make you cringe and squirm? It feels awful, having these things hanging over your head.
Most of us would like to deal with them by trying to avoid the obstacles altogether, but this really misses the larger lesson, because:
The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
Instead of avoiding these obstacles we must face them head on. We must embrace them, and use them to better ourselves.
But how do we face our obstacles?
They stare it down, they aren’t intimidated. Leaning into their problem or weakness or issue, they give everything they have, mentally and physically. Even though they did not always overcome it in the way they intended or expected, each individual emerged better, stronger.”
How to Overcome Any Obstacle
Some people tend to think that their problems will always be with them. That’s “just the way they are”. Yet, this is far from the truth:
No one is born a gladiator. No one is born with an Inner Citadel. If we’re going to succeed in achieving our goals despite the obstacles that may come, this strength in will must be built.”
In the future, when you come to a road block, don’t panic. Don’t fret or pout—look at this obstacle as an opportunity for growth.
And from what we know, he truly saw each and every one of these obstacles as an opportunity to practice some virtue: patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity.”
Everything in life really comes down to mindset. When you change the way you think, then you will start to live the way you should.
What blocked the path now is a path. What once impeded action advances action. The Obstacle is the Way.”
A Vast Wealth of Knowledge
I’m always fascinated by what books successful and talented people are reading. And from reading this book, I can tell Holiday reads a ton. In fact, his bibliography is basically dozens of books on my own ‘To-Read List’.
He also has a ton of recommendations, one list which I just sent out in my newsletter this weekend (Hint Hint: Sign Up).
Beyond just creating wish list of books, the breadth of books that he read really comes in handy when writing these books as he uses numerous anecdotes from a variety of sources to really rive his points home.
Also, if you’re familiar with Robert Greene’s books, this may seem similar. Both authors make use of stories from the lives of great men, such as in the 48 Laws of Power.
Click here to purchase a copy of The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday on Amazon.