Rather than actionable instructions, these platitudes are vast like the oceans. They run into each other, have no discernible borders, and are so huge as to be unwieldy, so unwieldy as to be pointless. The only real linkage here is the classical Stoic advice to maintain equanimity.
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This could have been conveyed in a much more powerful way. Like by the Stoics, for example. He admits as much in the intro. The book revolves around dozens of small, unrelated and intellectually unlinked anecdotes. Seemingly anyone who's ever done something well is an example, contradictions be damned. The most hilarious thing is how poorly-rendered Holiday's history is. One can trace the thread of [Stoicism] from those days in the decline and fall of the Roman Empire to the creative outpouring of the Renaissance to the breakthroughs of the Enlightenment.
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It's seen starkly in the pioneer spirit of the American West, the perseverance of the Union cause during the Civil War, and in the bustle of the Industrial Revolution. It appeared again in the bravery of the leaders of the civil rights movement and stood tall in the prison camps of Vietnam. No word on whether the Native Americans just got out-stoic'd by the "pioneer spirit.
I have a feeling that's the case here. It's vaguely insulting to be told that all obstacles are just a bunch of Oedipal Sphinxes. That's easy to say when your career began with a chance encounter with your favorite author, who announced that at that moment he was really looking for a research assistant to hire, and do you know anyone? Probably harder for the kids in sub-Saharan Africa to really leverage their malnutrition into a fierce and fulfilling career in PR.
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Fuck this book. View all 34 comments. Sep 02, Jazzmin Hunter rated it did not like it Shelves: psychology-crap. About as useful as starting with a list of amputees, picking out only the successful ones, getting their stories, and then writing a book called "Having a Limb Chopped Off is the Way". View all 12 comments. May 26, Marcus rated it it was ok Recommends it for: skip this and read the Stoics. Shelves: self-development. This isn't much more than a superficial repackaging of stoicism combined with some semi-interesting anecdotes and a whole lot of trite motivational affirmations.
The book is written in the style of Holiday's mentor, Robert Greene, but where Greene does something rare and surprising by compensating for his lack of personal experience with deep and compelling research, The Obstacle is the Way falls flat. The anecdotes are common and superficial and their ties to Stoicism feel tenuous at best. Then This isn't much more than a superficial repackaging of stoicism combined with some semi-interesting anecdotes and a whole lot of trite motivational affirmations.
Then, to make it worse, rather than allowing the stories and quotes from the stoics to speak for themselves, they are always followed by explicit and repetitive advice that just constantly restates the one idea that yes, the obstacle is the way. I really like Ryan. I think he's done some great work elsewhere. I have heard him interviewed and he is a sincere and positive guy. This book feels rushed and incomplete though. View all 7 comments. Feb 13, Heather rated it did not like it Shelves: nonfiction , read-for-work.
This book was a fucking obstacle. Now I can share the way: Don't bother. View 2 comments. Stoicism: the ancient philosophy that teaches mental endurance in the face of hardship. So: I flat out loved this book! Stoicism, to paraphrase Holiday, is hard-won wisdom forged in the crucible of human experience, and its lessons are enormously valuable. In brief, they are: to do what is within our power and to accept what Stoicism: the ancient philosophy that teaches mental endurance in the face of hardship. I was surprised to discover that a lot of ways of thinking I already use in my own life are traced back to Stoicism.
Maybe I liked this book so much because of bias confirmation? The best thing about this very humanist worldview is that it spurs you on to be the best possible you who then goes on to do things, rather than stagnate in fear, depression, sybaritic behaviours, etc. I had no idea that former US presidents Andrew Johnson and James Garfield started their careers as a tailor and school janitor respectively but it makes where they got to eventually all the more impressive, and they used stoicism to get themselves there.
The Obstacle is the Way is a fantastic overview of and introduction to a remarkable philosophy that has impressed itself on me completely - genuinely helpful and inspiring stuff! This is rocket fuel for the mind. May 12, J.
Penn rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , self-help , entrepreneur , psychology. This is an intelligent self-help book packed with examples from history of people who made it through adversity into greatness. It also offers a system for approaching life as a more average person, turning obstacles into advantages, and using relentless persistence to achieve what you want. We all face obstacles in our lives, what matters is how we perceive them and work with them to move on. Holiday uses Stoicism as a basis for the book, but it's not a dry philosophy book by any means.
He makes the words from thousands of years ago come alive through modern example. As someone who studied Greek and Latin at school, I appreciated the 21st century take on the subject.
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Through perception, action and will, we can achieve despite obstacles. I particularly liked the chapter on 'amor fati,' love of fate. View 1 comment. May 26, Brad Feld rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy. Holiday covers the topic well in a very accessible way. Aug 10, Eric Gardner rated it did not like it. There aren't many folksy sayings, but the next pages features a mixture of ineffectual proverbs and utterly incomplete historical rehashes.
Holiday is an accomplished thinker and writer, but this book will not give you a comprehensive insight into success or stoicism, but rather a foolishly short-sided view of the world. If Holiday analyzed the European theatre of WW2 he would forget to mention America's supply chain advantages or Germany's lack of oil. Instead he would focus on Eisenhower's unique ability to "find the opportunity" and see that the solution to the German strategy "was found inside the strategy itself.
View all 3 comments. Found this after googling "The Process" during a highly caffeinated Sixers-related research session one day. As a Sixers fan since the days of Darryl Dawkins pre-Moses, I mean , I was very much in favor of The Process, following its intricacies more closely than I had regular season games in the past, in part because it was such a rational, analytics-driven, longest-view-type plan that ultimately had as its goal not making the playoffs every year and losing in the first or second round, thereby drafting in the middle teens and getting stuck every year with very good players like Thaddeus Young but drafting and developing game-changing players who can ignite the city and lead the team to the finals at least.
But I think I was also attracted to it because it was about rationally overcoming the OBSTACLE of mediocrity losing in the first round of the playoffs or just missing out each year and winning championships multiple NBA titles, ideally. So I've been a little bit interested in The Process over the years -- and then last week googled "The Process" and for the first time considered that Kafka's "The Trial" is actually called "Der Process" in German -- and also I read something about college football coach Nick Saban's "Process," which led me to this book, which I ordered on a whim.
This one takes Stoicism and Aurelius's Meditations and delivers it like "Stoicism for Dummies" but in updated, attractive, readable form. It's structured into three parts perception, action, will , with each part having between nine and twelve short chapters, each beginning with a quotation, followed by an anecdote from some famous person Edison, U. Grant, Lincoln, Earhart, Gandhi, MLK, Richard Wright, George Clooney, etc , followed by some abstraction on the topic, followed by more quotations, followed by second-person coach-like clipped encouragement-type sentences, often ending with a bulleted list of summarized tactics to help us deal with the obstacle ahead of us, whatever it is.
It's a quick, painless, at times thought-provoking read again, it's basically a collection of quotations and anecdotes , a great model for anyone interested in reducing a classical philosophy to cherry-picked historical stories and aphorisms followed by vernacular translation directly addressing the reader.
I also now know that when confronted by an obstacle, as long as I proceed with complete attention and energy, all my armies deployed, I can choose to go around it, go in the opposite direction, use the obstacle's energy against it, confront it head on with persistence and try to outlast it -- that is, for every obstacle there's like fifteen different contradictory responses possible.
But it's interesting to think about in terms of the Sixers' Process and Kafka's "Before The Law" parable, where the traveler wants to gain access to the Law but the door is blocked by a guard with a huge Tartan beard who talks about dozens of other doors beyond his, each blocked by more terrifying guards, and so the traveler begs, pleads, bribes, and then falls silent and waits patiently for the guard to let him in until one day he realizes that he's grown old and somehow no one else has ever come also seeking entry to The Law and so he asks the guard about this and the guard says because this door was only for you and now I'm going to shut it.
The guy seeking entry to The Law in Kafka's tale maybe should've read this book. Sam Hinkie, however, could probably write a better version of it. Anyway, an atypical read that's made me want to find that copy of "Meditations" by Marcus Aurelius I have somewhere and that seems more valuable as a model for how to write something like this than a self-help obstacle-overcoming handbook in itself. Jul 26, Perry rated it really liked it Shelves: nonfiction.
It could be immensely helpful to the bright-eyed, the bubbly, the go-getters, et al. This is a new perspective coming from many different angles on turning obstacles over, around and about into positives, and maybe to a better way than that shattered myth of me. I go back to this book often and always find a treasure I really need and that I'd forgotten from my first reading.
This is not a feel-good, power of positive thinking, Dr. It's real and it's really practical. May 17, Tim Nowotny rated it it was ok. Maybe I got into it with too much background of the author. Knowing and linking much of the Tim Ferris stuff I had read the blog post of "How to do a bestseller" which this applies without shame. That in itself would be no bad thing. The bad thing for me starts when there is no depth in this book. It is like having heard a good quote and repeating it over and over and over again.
I like the author and I like stoism. But there is so much more than "It is not important what life throws at you, you s Maybe I got into it with too much background of the author. But there is so much more than "It is not important what life throws at you, you still can make it" May 05, Canadian rated it did not like it Shelves: did-not-finish.
This is a trite, flippant book that does a great disservice to the deep philosophy of the stoics. Replete with references to tycoons and millionaires, it is largely self-help in perky, upbeat, you-can-do-it, rah-rah language. The essential premise of stoicism--that sometimes the only choice you have when you are faced with a dire situation is the attitude or philosophy of acceptance that you can bring to it--has been warped into "there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
The hard things that happen in the world do not occur for our own personal growth and "journeys". Ryan Holiday is apparently known for another popular work which some have found a bit chilling Trust Me, I'm Lying. I didn't trust Holiday for a minute here with his Tony Robbins-like exhortations and his superficial glossing over in chipper staccato prose of life's real hardships and injustices.
One's attitude and perception do need to be wrestled with in times of great pain and hardship, but such events don't occur to make us better people. I do not recommend this formulaic piece of self-help schlock. Avoid it! May 08, Isaiah Hankel rated it it was amazing. The Obstacle is the Way digs into how knowledge and reason are in fact the highest good, as well as how to stay indifferent to pleasure and pain and how to respond to the vicissitudes of fortune objectively.
The key is to not let your emotions color your perception of the world. Ryan not only provides a great review of stoicism, he does an excellent job at articulating exactly how this school of thought can be applied to any problems that you might be facing now as you try to advance your career The Obstacle is the Way digs into how knowledge and reason are in fact the highest good, as well as how to stay indifferent to pleasure and pain and how to respond to the vicissitudes of fortune objectively.
Ryan not only provides a great review of stoicism, he does an excellent job at articulating exactly how this school of thought can be applied to any problems that you might be facing now as you try to advance your career or transition from academia into a new career. He also provides an ample number of takeaways in the book. The Obstacle is the Way goes beyond the philosophy of stoicism simply by making the philosophy actionable. Reading this book will make you take action. Rational action. If you're looking to: -Take your career to the next level by getting a promotion even though someone else is standing in your way -Transition out of academia and into a new career to finally get paid what you're worth even though you don't have any business connections -Quit your job and start your own business so you never have to work for anyone again even though you don't know how to run a business The Obstacle is the Way is rooted in concrete, everlasting principles, not processes or fads that come and go with the wind.
By reading this book, you will understand these principles and you will be able to make use of them to get what you want. If you want to get ahead, the Obstacle is the Way is highly recommended. May 21, Andrew McMillen rated it it was amazing. I don't know whether the author intended it to be read as such, but to me this is nothing if not a motivational book.
Rooted in actionable philosophy that seeks to flip readers' perception of any problematic event into an opportunity, 'Obstacle''s inner message is that, ultimately, the only thing standing between success and failure is yourself. His writing style here is sharp, succinct and authoritative, and clearly influenced by the approach of Holiday's mentor — and another favourite author o I don't know whether the author intended it to be read as such, but to me this is nothing if not a motivational book.
His writing style here is sharp, succinct and authoritative, and clearly influenced by the approach of Holiday's mentor — and another favourite author of mine — Robert Greene 'The 48 Laws of Power', 'Mastery'. By drawing on notable historical examples and showing the strategies these well-known figures used to overcome challenges in their lives, the reader is shown a clear path between intent, action and outcome. A short read at around pages presented in a small 'pocketbook' format, this is a huge and ballsy departure from Holiday's first book, 'Trust Me, I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator'.
It's a text that I can easily see myself returning to in times of need, just as I do with 'The 48 Laws of Power' and 'Mastery'. Aug 12, Peter Goutis rated it it was ok. I really wanted to like this. Ryan seems like a smart guy. But I just found it tedious to get through.
It was very repetitive and "cheerleady" okay, I know that's not a word. I have specialized in helping people transform their lives for several decades.
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By bringing personal stories of adversity, triumph, failure, and humor into my presentations, the audiences really respond and remember the material I have specialized in helping people transform their lives for several decades. One such benefit is simply this: in going through a terrible trial—say a terrible illness or a great loss—and surviving it, we become uniquely positioned to offer support and hope to others going through the same thing in the future. Even if an obstacle prevents you from attaining your goal, in the act of working hard to overcome it, you'll undoubtedly learn something that will serve you well in the future.
Holiday's book acknowledges all of this and does one more crucial thing: it includes examples of people from history who've turned obstacles in front of them into the way forward. What made this book such a wonderful read for me—what makes it so useful to someone who already knows all these principles and strives to live by them every day—is that the stories it tells offer what is perhaps the most effective kind of help that anyone who's going through a difficult time needs: encouragement. What we need when the going gets tough isn't a blueprint that offers a series of steps to solve a problem for no such blueprint could ever cover all possible problems with enough specificity to be useful , but rather a series of stories that will convince us that we can figure out the steps to solving our problems ourselves.
For in my experience, believing you can succeed when you don't know exactly how is the most difficult of beliefs to muster, but the one you must in order to do as Holiday argues we can: turn all our trials into triumph. For the last several years, I viewed my divorce in a purely negative way. Lots of people kept reciting the "silver lining" philosophy. I like this articles perspective on it better. My divorce was my obstacle to my happiness, I'm now using it to find my way to greater happiness.
If you've never seen the movie "Peaceful Warrior," I think you'd enjoy it. There's a great line in the movie from a mentor to his collegiate gymnast disciple who has undergone a horrific accident. After the kid heals, he asks his mentor, "What do you think I should do? Thanks for the article.
Lesser is a co-founder of The Omega Institute and a beautiful writer. Her book is based on the same principle the author espouses in this article: Reading stories of others' trials and transformations is one of the best ways to keep walking the difficult, but often inevitable, path before us. I used a whole lifetime of adversity to win a scholarship I wrote about my life of overcoming and thriving and won a scholarship and am a Sophomore in college at 68!
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