In one moment you are satisfied with yourself and you have the feeling of having everything under control. In the next, you are surprised by an event that pulls you out of everyday life and shakes your identity.
Life always presents me with new big and small obstacles. I’m also confronted with my own quirks and weaknesses on a daily basis. I’m sure you can relate to that.
The book „The Obstacle is The Way” has shown me how to transform obstacles into opportunities, how to focus my actions on what I can have an impact on and how to love my fate. In this article I describe the lessons I’ve learned from reading this book. I hope this article gives you a toolbox which will help you to grow from the obstacles you encounter on your journey.
Here our Book review of „The Obstacle is The Way“ by Ryan Holiday.
Author: Ryan Holiday
Publisher: Profile Books
Ryan Holiday is an American best-selling author, writer and marketing expert.
How Obstacles Are Transformed Into Opportunities
On closer inspection obstacles in life are neither positive, nor negative. What’s good and wha’ts bad , is determined by humans. The events themselves are neutral. It’s about having an objective perception on things and keeping calm in times of crisis. I becomes possible from looking at the obstacle from a different perspective.
What we become is much more important than what we get. That’s why every event, no matter how bad we think it is, is a chance, to develop ourselves. We are given the possibility to grow into the resulting uncertainty through events that push us out of our comfort zones. From the moment we change our perspective on these events obstacles are no longer connected to anger, rage, fear and uncertainty. Instead they offer us the opportunity to develop, courage, kindness, inner peace, resilience and wisdom. Sometimes it is difficult to recognize the good in seemingly harsh situations. What helps is to change the focus from “What can I learn from this misery?” to “How can I serve others through this opportunity?”.
Sometimes doing things for something bigger than ourselves makes them much easier. This can also be transferred to less dramatic obstacles. When writing this article, I had trouble moving on with my writing and writing the lessons learned from the book down. By thinking that I could probably help you, the reader to turn an obstacle on its head to turn it into an opportunity to grow, I found new energy to overcome my writer’s block. Thinking that I write this article for you massively helped me.
Life is a series of events, which strengthen your character. There will always be obstacles, who are to be overcome. What remains at the end of this adventure, is the greates version of yourself.
Focus your actions on what you can change and accept what you can’t change.
In moments of powerlessness we often tend to complain and to do nothing Ryan Holiday suggests in his book, to accept, to combine what we cannot change, and the energy from the dissatisfaction to our actions with things to promote it, we can change. External factors may influence our way. However, we choose the direction in which we go.
With a new perspective on our obstacles and the energy that we otherwise would have used to complain, we can take a first step and act. The first step allows the next and builds unstoppable momentum until it eventually becomes part of one’s identity.
It is important to keep on going no matter the circumstances. With the example of Thomas Edison, who needed around 2000 attempts until he invented the light bulb, the book describes, that genius often is nothing else but relentless steady action coupled with patience and resilience.
We must be prepared, that our actions will bring no results. Even if everything seems to be perfect, there will always be things that simply don’t work. What’s left is to go ahead and do our best. I fight with this myself and know that I can’t control the world in my favor. However, I can very well control the direction and continous action I take. This process let’s me grow personally. This brings me to the next point.
Amor Fati – Love fate
An accident, the death of a beloved person, a hopeless situation, violence and torture or moments in which we simply don’t know how to move on – in all these situations, we are not powerless. Because whatever happens, not a different person, no God and no fate can control what we think. We decide how we experience our world and how we deal with the obstacles in our live. Therefore Ryan Holiday proposes that equipped with the certainty of being the master of one’s own intentions, as well as with a modified perception and continuous action, to love your fate. Experience joy in dark times and keep going. Most of us weren’t born with the fire within, that keeps us warm and gives hope during rough times. Instead, it must be forged through physical and mental training.
Obstacles are part of life. When and where they pop-up and mess with our lives is unpredictable. This makes the training of body and mind an important disciplines. The training doesn’t make us invincible, because death is certain, but ready to act, when it comes to difficult situations.
So, we need to be ready and accept that unexpected experiences are part of life. I unfortunately ignored this far too often, and were often forgetting things that were really important. Such events seemed to be accumilating in the last year. As a result, I got to see the consequences affect me and my loved ones. The philosophy of the book’s protagonists have inspired me to think about the supposedly negative, to accept that and to love fate .
Who is this book for?
The book was very enjoyable and packed with exciting stories. The philosophy described by Ryan Holiday is based on stoa, a philosophical school, which promotes virtuous life in accordance with reason. Each sub-chapter had life stories of various historical figures such as Thomas Edison, Richard Wright, and many more. This makes Ryan Holiday’s philosophy accessible and workable, because the reader can recognize himself in the protagonist of the tales.
The book is divided into the following three parts: perception, action and will. As described from my viewpoint above, the three parts show the reader a way to grow from obstacles. The subchapters describe individual disciplines to implement this in your own lives. These are only a few pages long and can be read well in short breaks of 5 to 10 minutes.
In the Western world the philosophy of the Stoics, based on rationality and emotional control, has a long history. It is deeply rooted in our culture. I would argue that maybe we already have enough of this philosophy. The book ignores if a more open relation to our emotions would do us well and thereby ignites ideas for a possible future article on our blog.
If you want a blueprint to be able to better deal with obstacles in your life, then “The Obstacle Is The Way” is for you. For myself, I’m convinced that this book has the potential to change my life.
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Are you currently standing in front of an obstacle in your life, which you try to overcome and you have the opportunity to grow from?