The Obstacle is the Way | Ryan Holiday

I had the pleasure to listen to this book as well.  In this book, Ryan leverages a lot more of General Sherman as well as sprinkles a fair amount of Stoicism in this book.

Ryan speaks of obstacles in our life at every turn.  It is what we do about and with these obstacles that differentiate us.  Obstacles can certainly grind us to a halt, however, if we choose to remind ourselves that we are capable, we can overcome even the greatest of obstacles.  Perhaps instead of simply standing and staring at an obstacle and allowing the obstacle to overwhelm us, we can take action and perhaps convert this obstacle into one of our biggest strengths.

He speaks of perceptions and how we can dictate what it is that we see when we are viewing an event.  We can certainly be emotional about some things, however, in the case of the obstacle, should we become too emotional about such a thing it will only multiply our perceived difficulties.  Therefore, we must do what we can to master the ability to limit how much sway our passions hold over us.  Our perceptions can change right away, instead of viewing something as a problem we can simply view it as a challenge that we are more than capable of succeeding with.  It is imperative to control our emotions, maintain composure and move forward with any challenge with a great sense of focus.   We need to be able to find the opportunity in every obstacle and we are able to do this by correcting our perceptions.

I enjoyed how he spoke of Rubin Carter, while he was convicted of crimes he did not commit, he spent 19 years in prison, and he did not allow it to effect him.  He was still the man he was when he went in when he came out.  He would not allow himself to think of himself as a criminal and he would not allow others to treat him as such either.  Had he perceived himself to be in a desolate situation and at the mercy of those around him, he may have broken.  It was his perception of himself that allowed him to maintain his composure, emotions, and overall mindset.

He speaks more to keeping your emotions in check as well as practicing objectivity.   He outlines that if you were to remove yourself from your situations and view them as an outsider may (similar to you having a discussion with a friend and the answer is so obvious) then you may notice that the difficulty has been greatly minimized, perhaps even eradicated. This goes hand in hand again with changing the perspective and while you may not be able to alter the obstacles right away you may with the correct perspective overcome them.

Anytime an obstacle presents itself we may either immediately complain and give up or face it head on.  This does not, of course, mean that we will be able to overcome every single obstacle as we are only able to control what we can control and that is ourselves, our perceptions and our actions.  However, if there is even the tiniest shred of hope to succeed, we must continue forth until it is overcome, or completely outside of our control.

He speaks a bit about living in the present moment, about how we need to stop worrying about the past as it won’t help you solve the problems that are weighing you down currently.  He challenges us to think differently and uses Steve Jobs to do so.  Steve Jobs was famous for asking if that was the absolute best that someone could do, and often times the person would think no and continue to work on their projects.

Ryan also challenges us to find the opportunity.  He recounts how many injured athletes who initially felt isolated and depressed were able to find strength in their abilities to help their teammates out in other ways.

He also challenges us to act, once we recognize that our obstacles are not as big as we perceive them to be we must act immediately.

He speaks on about action, the discipline of action, persistence, iteration.  Persistence itself can be key, how even when face to face with failure if you persist that will be the key to success. Listen to feedback and accept your failures as they will ultimately show you the way.

Follow the process, it is much easier to manage an obstacle or series of obstacles via a process, for if you attempt everything at once you will become overwhelmed.  Do not allow disturbances to distract you from the task at hand.  Excellence is nothing but following the right steps, right now.

Do your job and do it right, you may not enjoy what it is that you are doing you should still be proud of the work that you do and use it as an opportunity to learn and excel.

What’s right is what works, aim high but focus on the process rather than perfection.  Chasing perfection in lieu of practicality may very well be the bane of success.

There is a great bit more to be had in this book and I do recommend it in a stare your obstacles down kinda way!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s