The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
by Ryan Holiday
This is a guide through stoic philosophy without being one. Stoicism isn’t particularly well known. Most know it’s something Roman-related, and calling someone “stoic” means they appear cold an unfeeling.
Stoicism actually is a philosophy about how to live life. It’s like a Roman version of Zen.
This book skips talking about stoicism, and gives a well-structured guide to how to think about life and the obstacles it throws at you. It includes lots of great stories from some people you’ve heard of, some you haven’t, to serve as examples to illustrate each point.
Points that stood out to me:
- Turn challenges into “I can make this good”
- Don’t be a slave to your impulses
- Being able to turn obstacles into opportunities requires self-discipline and logic
- You don’t have to agree with what your mind tells you
- Learn to separate the unlikely from the impossible
- Focusing on what is in your power magnifies your power
- Half of all fortune 500 companies were started in recessions or during poor economic conditions. Success isn’t about good conditions. It’s about accepting the conditions you have
- Take action as soon as you can, don’t wait for the perfect opportunity
- Genius is often persistence in disguise
- Being trapped is just position, not a fate
- Channel your energy. Be physically loose and mentally tight
- Every situation that blocks our path actually presents new path
- Personal pain can be an advantage. Your words go to people’s hearts if they come from yours
- Craft spiritual strength through physical exercise
- Resisting the setbacks in life is as useless as arguing with a traffic light. The only option is to accept and act accordingly
- All paths lead to death. Might as well choose a path you like
- Be like fire: whatever it is given it consumes and grows stronger
Turns out philosophy is not some heady game for scholars. It is, in fact, about finding practical solutions to life’s challenges.