The Obstacle Is the Way - Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way - Ryan Holiday

Learn what to do to overcome the obstacles that insist on knocking you down and understand once and for all to use them as a passport towards the path of a happy, prosperous, and victorious life.

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How do you see the adversities that appear in your life? Many times we let fear and frustrations take the reins of our lives and dictate the rules that should be made by ourselves. Ryan Holiday gives in “The Obstacle Is the Way” some valuable tips to transform those adversities into motivation!

Learn here the key secrets of a successful person and how to overcome difficulties and turn them into fuel in the marathon of your life.

To solve your problems, you must have different perspectives and qualities, if you want to do something different, you must be different! In this summary, we’ve separated the book’s main ideas to help you on this path!

Got interested to learn more about it? Stay with us in this summary!

About the book “The Obstacle Is the Way”

The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph” was written by Ryan Holiday in 2014.

This work is based on Stoic philosophy and presents the manual of courage that teaches how to behave in the face of life's adversities.

Who is Ryan Holiday?

Ryan Holiday is a writer, entrepreneur, and founder of Brass Check.

He studied Political Science at the University of California and has written several books in the field of marketing and Emotional Intelligence strategies for greater business profitability, among them we can quote “Ego Is the Enemy”.

Who should read the book “The Obstacle Is the Way”?

Dreamers and visionaries who want to overcome their fears and insecurities in the face of obstacles and learn to overcome barriers through emotional intelligence and targeted actions.

Main ideas of the book “The Obstacle Is the Way”

  • The obstacle teaches where you want to go and where you should go;
  • Our perceptions may be a source of strength or weakness;
  • Most obstacles are internal rather than external;
  • One of the main methods to solve a problem is to divide them into parts;
  • Sometimes it is more prudent to accept the obstacle than to fight against it;
  • Inactivity is the same as taking the wrong mistake;
  • Some companies fail for avoidable errors.
  • Resilience needs to be one of the key characteristics of those who have learned from obstacles.

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[Book Summary] The Obstacle Is the Way - Ryan Holiday

How to face the problems? 

Imagine a situation in which you are engaged in carrying out your projects and encounter an obstacle that keeps you from following the path. What would your reaction be?

Well, it is a fact that when we are faced with adversity, there comes a mix of feelings that prevent us from seeing the target and seeing solutions that we should take.

Fear, anger, anguish, and especially frustration come and embody in our lives in such a way that often makes us give up our focus.

Ryan Holiday points out that currently, our biggest obstacles are the internal ones, the result of our tensions, emotions, and negativity.

Most of the time, we want to blame something or someone for our failures. This attitude must be exterminated from the life of those who really want to learn from obstacles.

The book explains that in order to overcome obstacles and see possibilities in the midst of chaos, there must be a change in 3 areas in our lives:

  1. The way we look at our problems;
  2. How we approach our problems;
  3. And the way we use our energy and creativity to turn our adversities into advantages.

And how can this change happen?

This transformation can happen through perception, action, and willpower. These are the key points used by the author to turn great difficulties into infinite possibilities.

We will cover each point in the following overviews.

What is the Power of Perception?

When we speak of perception, it must be understood that this goes far beyond mere discernment or evaluation. For perception to be effective, the perception has to be directed and free from emotional strings.

A person who wants to learn from problems needs to understand that perception can be a source of strength or weakness. That is, if we look at a particular situation through an excess lens, we tend to distance ourselves from where we want to reach.

Ryan explains that what is required for good perception is self-discipline and objectivity. Studying what you really want, assessing possible mistakes, and having a dose of self-confidence is key in this process.

Understand that the way you do the project and obstacle assimilation also dictates the way you will behave. Despair, fear, and a sense of helplessness are normal reactions when we realize that something is not right.

But what really sets you apart from a person who knows how to appreciate obstacles is the time you last with those feelings. This, then, is the need for cautious self-confidence.

It is not simply that you don’t feel wrong, or that you will be able to solve everything in a magical way. It's really about you understand that, as long as the error persists, you will find a way out of it.

Whether doing new projects or restructuring your route to more confidently reach your expected target.

“The Obstacle Is the Way” explains that when we let emotions take over our view of a given situation, we lose the objective perception that makes us more rational through a given problem.

Emotional perception, in turn, is useless because it can invade not only our ability to act but especially our desire to seek an escape route to the obstacle.

Keep in mind that the higher the goals, the more people you will have to face. Control your emotions, recognize your value, your knowledge, and your power.

During the work, Ryan cites balance as an attribute and skill that will help you in this learning process. Act on the “cool head” problem.

"Cool head" does not mean indifference. In fact, this expression has much more to do with courage and serenity. For this to happen, you need to see the problem from the outside.

Get away from it for a moment. Solve it as if it wasn't yours. This is an effective method for getting rid of the action of emotional perception through obstacles.

There are two types of views about a given context:

  1. The Perceiving Look: This kind of look is not helpful. This is because this person's vision is designed only for problems and setbacks. They see no solutions, is driven by emotions and never sees a way out;
  2. The watchful eye: This is an intelligent view that sees the situation as a whole. It is free of distractions and exaggeration. It doesn’t allow the emotional to shake and is prepared, strong, and skilled to look at the problem calmly and treat it wisely.

The work highlights that one of the main mistakes that destabilize the emotional of the individual is to put all problems in one box. Anxiety about solving everything once and for all is a major impediment to reaching the solution.

It is important to focus on what really can be changed and what is really within your reach.

What if the problem is big and hard? Divide into resolvable parts. And little by little you will be able to unravel the mystery.

Why is Action a necessity?

After learning a new perception, you should start rolling up your sleeves and taking action. One must study the source of error and act with courage, creativity, and boldness.

A tip: Don't run away from the action. It's your problem and only you can solve it. Search for the best strategies and the best routes to realize the solution.

For this you will need to face the obstacles with:

  • Persistence;
  • Resilience;
  • Pragmatism;
  • Cunning;
  • Strategic vision;
  • Insight into opportunities. 

Don’t take too long to act. Keep in mind that each obstacle makes you stronger for the next to come.

The more we procrastinate, the more apathetic we become about a given situation. As a result, more adversity will grow. You must nip it in the bud.

Understand also that, before any action, mistakes must be assumed. What cannot happen, however, is to admit by relating to failure and powerlessness. Here is the meaning of the stagnant individual.

Action and failure are different sides of the same coin. And what differentiates each other? The fear.

Fear paralyzes, demotivates, and makes you even more tolerant when what you should do is a revolt.

The meaning of revolt here has to do with nonconformity. Don't settle for the obstacle, let alone defeat. Don’t let fear dictate the rules to you. Replace it with the process.

What process? Learning and overcoming process.

Don’t be a hypocrite. We are very brave when we talk about theories, methods, society, and others. But when we need to act, we fail and give up.

It is important to make it clear in your mind that conditions are unlikely to be favorable for those who want something big. For that, be strong and persistent.

Embrace resistance and be friends with resilience.

Often we have emotional intelligence, we don't shake easily, we have projects, we think of strategies. However, we have no patience to perform. Understand that it is okay to discourage. The problem is giving up.

To reap the rewards of our actions, it is necessary to channel our energies into what really matters.

Save your dreams and strategies for those who can really do something for you. And if you're alone in this, take the responsibility and determination you know you need.

Not sure how? Well, get organized. A disorganized mind easily loses focus and has no idea how or where to start.

Ryan Holiday explains, regarding actions, we must present two fundamental characteristics: order and attention.

Back off a needed

We often spend time and energy working to solve a problem. We waste time struggling to unravel the mystery, when in fact the problem lies in our approach to the circumstance.

Ryan Holiday explains that when this happens, one has to step back. What actually hinders our vision is because we are at the center of the problem. And here among us, in the midst of chaos, it is impossible to find a way out.

Sometimes what will change the situation is to leave it as it is. Use humility as a new approach, accepting the problem, and understanding that you won't be able to change it overnight.

Maybe you are acting wrong. Perhaps the best way is not to confront the problem head-on, but to walk side by side with patients, resistance, discipline, and self-control.

Use the problem as a catalyst

Chemically speaking, the catalyst can be explained as a substance responsible for modifying the speed of reactions. This action depends on the desired intention.

We can choose different catalysts, increasing or decreasing the speed of action of a matter. But what does this have to do with our theme?

Well, we can enjoy the crisis instead of mourning it. We can use the problem as a jump to the solution.

This is what “The Obstacle Is the Way” cites as taking advantage of the offensive and the feeling of “blood in the eye”, of willpower. It is to seize the opportunity of this feeling and to act using all the stored energy.

It is important to take the problem to a higher level. Remove it from the bell jar and place it in catapult mode.

But how so? Use obstacles as a means of projecting you where you want to reach.

What is our biggest fuel?

It may be that, even after perception and directed action, we may become unmotivated by the stagnation of the crisis. Now is the time to use our inner power.

According to the book, this internal power is our will, our desire to fight even if everything seems impossible. True will requires doses of flexibility and resilience.

Willpower helps us contextualize the problem in such a way that we begin to visualize solutions that previously did not exist.

A leader, a visionary, a dreamer must learn to sustain abstinence. Abstinence from fame, luxury and always being on top. Therefore, whoever anchors on these elements falls into the first crisis.

This abstinence can only be controlled with the desire to overcome and overcome barriers. The will is the discipline of the soul.

Understand, too, that unlike perception and action, the will is under our control. It's the final verdict. It is the sentence, the decision of whether we are indeed firm and on the right track.

Prepare for the worst

This is not pessimism, it is wisdom. In addition to setting goals you need to think: “What if it goes wrong?”

There are numerous reasons that can influence the progress of a project. This ranges from poor execution to staff overload, or lack of communication, for example. It's up to you, visionary, to work to get everything back into orbit again.

As stated, have cautious self-confidence. Too calm is not good. Understand that you are on a battlefield and you are fighting against everything and everyone who wants to stop your progress, even if you don't want to.

Once you have decided to fight for something, you should create tactics that will free you from potential pitfalls. Anticipating negative thoughts saves time, energy, and keeps us balanced when the storm comes.

So that, in fact, all this materializes, put love in your project. In ease and hardship, pour your best feeling at every step. Understand that we only put our emotions into what we really believe can happen.

Ryan Holiday explains that it is necessary to establish “amor fati”.

But what is this? It is loving the project, regardless of whether we get it right or fail. It is about empathy, with fate, and what comes from it.

Other books about overcoming obstacles in life

The book “Mindset”, by Carol S. Dweck, discusses how our beliefs shape our behavior and growth. While mindsets produce definitive worldviews, people can change by learning new skills. Human beings can be taught to respond in different ways, how to face challenges, and think differently.

In “Awaken the Giant Within”, Tony Robbins explains that maintaining a commitment to your decisions can be challenging, but the harder you try, the easier it gets. So when you fail to evoke a change in your life, don't be discouraged. Instead, think about what you can learn from failure.

Finally, in the book “Winning”, Jack Welch discusses that we must always seek quality in our professional life. If you are not satisfied with your job, find a job that provides enthusiasm for your career, it is very important that you do not settle and leave the comfort zone.

Okay, so how can I face the obstacles in my life?

  • See clearly and act correctly. Actions need to be directed and perceptions managed;
  • Don't be a viewer, but an observer of your problem. The viewer watches while the viewer identifies;
  • Focus on what can be changed. Fragment the problem and reach where the dilemma is;
  • Be patient. Create strategies. Review your wishes. Study possibilities;
  • Be ready to face the difficulty alone in the chaos. Do not seek angels, look for angles;
  • Hope for the best and prepare for the worst;
  • Don't take too long to act. Procrastination is the enemy of success;
  • Giving up is not an option. Resist, persist and insist;
  • Practice emotional balance. Overcome the unlikely and seek the impossible;
  • Persist on efforts and manage expectations. Dreaming is good, but realizing is wonderful.

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Book 'The Obstacle Is the Way' Ryan Holiday