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Book#0031 – The Obstacle Is the Way

Book0031-The Obstacle is the Way

The Obstacle Is the Way

The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
Ryan Holiday

About This Book

We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn’t be this way. There is a formula for success that’s been followed by the icons of history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—a formula that showed them how to turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they produced the astounding triumphs we all seek.

These men and women were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted. Their success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor who struggled to articulate a method for excellence in any and all situations.

This book reveals that formula in a new way—and shows us how we can turn our own adversity into advantage.


Overcoming obstacles is a discipline of three critical steps.

It begins with how we look at our specific problems, our attitude or approach; then the energy and creativity with which we actively break them down and turn them into opportunities; finally, the cultivation and maintenance of an inner will that allows us to handle defeat and difficulty.

It’s three interdependent, interconnected, and fluidly contingent disciplines: Perception, Action, and the Will.

Contents of This Book


WHAT IS PERCEPTION? It’s how we see and understand what occurs around us–and what we decide those events will mean. Our perceptions can be a source of strength or of great weakness. If we are emotional, subjective and shortsighted, we only add to our troubles. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practiced, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives. It takes skill and discipline to bat away the pests of bad perceptions, to separate reliable signals from deceptive ones, to filter out prejudice, expectation, and fear. But it’s worth it, for what’s left is truth. While others are excited or afraid, we will remain calm and imperturbable. We will see things simply and straightforwardly, as they truly are–neither good nor bad. This will be an incredible advantage for us in the fight against obstacles.

  • The Discipline Of Perception   [here]
  • Recognize Your Power   [here]
  • Steady Your Nerves   [here]
  • Control Your Emotions   [here]
  • Practice Objectivity   [here]
  • Alter Your Perspective   [here]
  • Is It Up To You?   [here]
  • Live In The Present Moment   [here]
  • Think Differently   [here]
  • Finding The Opportunity   [here]
  • Prepare To Act   [here]

Part 2.  ACTION

WHAT IS ACTION? Action is commonplace, right action is not. As a discipline, it’s not any kind of action that will do, but directed action. Everything must be done in the service of the whole. Step by step, action by action, we’ll dismantle the obstacles in front of us. With persistence and flexibility, we’ll act in the best interest of our goals. Action requires courage, not brashness–creative application and not brute force. Our movements and decisions define us: We must be sure to act with deliberation, boldness, and persistence. Those are the attributes of right and effective action. Nothing else–not thinking or evasion or aid from others. Action is the solution and the cure to our predicaments.

  • The Discipline Of Action   [here]
  • Get Moving   [here]
  • Practice Persistence   [here]
  • Iterate   [here]
  • Follow The Process   [here]
  • Do Your Job, Do It Right   [here]
  • What’s Right Is What Works   [here]
  • In Praise Of The Flank Attack   [here]
  • Use Obstacles Against Themselves   [here]
  • Channel Your Energy   [here]
  • Seize The Offensive   [here]
  • Prepare For None Of It To Work   [here]

Part 3.  WILL

WHAT IS WILL? Will is our internal power, which can never be affected by the outside world. It is our final trump card. If action is what we do when we still have some agency over our situation, the will is what we depend on when agency has all but disappeared. Placed in some situation that seems unchangeable and undeniably negative, we can turn it into a learning experience, a humbling experience, a chance to provide comfort to others. That’s will power. But that needs to be cultivated. We must prepare for adversity and turmoil, we must learn the art of acquiescence and practice cheerfulness even in dark times. Too often people think that will is how bad we want something. In actuality, the will has a lot more to do with surrender than with strength. Try “God willing” over “the will to win” or “willing it into existence,” for even those attributes can be broken. True will is quiet humility, resilience, and flexibility; the other kind of will is weakness disguised by bluster and ambition. See which lasts longer under the hardest of obstacles.

  • The Discipline Of The Will   [here]
  • Build Your Inner Citadel   [here]
  • Anticipation (Thinking Negatively)   [here]
  • The Art Of Acquiescence   [here]
  • Love Everything That Happens   [here]
  • Perseverance   [here]
  • Something Bigger Than Yourself   [here]
  • Meditate On Your Mortality   [here]
  • Prepare To Start Again   [here]

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