The Obstacle is the Way - Book Summary
This is one of my favorite books from one of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday. Reading The Obstacle is the Way has had a profound effect on my life and my professional career.
The Main Message
When you're presented with an obstacle, think about how you can turn it into an opportunity to grow and succeed.
Highlights of The Obstacle is The Way
The main message of the book is derived from Stoicism, the philosophy that acts as my life's guardrails.
Essentially, when we are presented with an obstacle, there is most likely an advantage hidden in disguise.
The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
— Marcus Aurelius
The book is conveniently organized into three parts: Perception, Action, Will.
It is up to us to turn obstacles into advantages. And it starts with perception. Our attitude and thoughts determine whether a situation instills a sense of fear or courage, hopelessness or optimism, misery or cheerfulness.
It's not situations themselves that control our thoughts, it is our perception of situations that control our thoughts.
A critical question to ask yourself: "How can I turn this perceived disadvantage into a real advantage?"
Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.
— Andy Grove, former Intel CEO
The first step is to be cognizant of your perceptions, so that external events don't control our thoughts. The second step is to have the courage to take action.
Turn "shit into sugar".
The third step is to leverage our discipline and will. "Will is our fortitude and wisdom." To stay strong, persist, and resist the temptation to be subdued by challenges.
People who embrace obstacles and use them to their advantage are the people who will be most successful.
My formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati; that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely to bear what is necessary still less conceal it... but love it.
— Friedrich Nietzsche
Throughout the book, Ryan Holiday shares stories from history's leaders like Benjamin Franklin, Amelia Earhart, and Thomas Edison on how they had the will to control their perceptions and act with courage.
First, see clearly. (See things for what they are.)
Next, act correctly. (Do what we can.)
Finally, endure and accept the world as it is. (Bear what we must.)
— Ryan Holiday
In all situations, be cheerful and "turn your trials into triumphs."