• October 14, 2021
the obstacle is the way summary
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We all listen to the stories of how to overcome obstacles but Ryan Holiday introduces us to a new concept as to how obstacles are the way. The author in his 30s explains as to how obstacles can pave the way to success in life.

The book is a crisp account of how famous personalities waded through difficulties and managed to get to what they wanted.

At the start of the book, Ryan Holiday brings in a great quote of Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel who said: Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.

The book talks about ways to look at obstacles and carve our way through the difficulties.

The Obstacle is the Way quotes the mighty Rockefeller who made fortunes while being patient. One of the quotes by Warren Buffet also caught my attention which goes:

Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.

It talks about the ‘biological baggage’ we still carry although most of the risks once faced by human civilization are outdated for the modern day human. Using this concept Ryan Holiday brings in how perception shapes our world and how great achievers break free from the shackles of bad and negative perception

Controlling the Emotions

The book talks about how we need to control our emotions for success and cites the example of astronauts who are rigorously trained ‘not to panic’.

The author tries to inculcate the idea that when we worry due to any sort of problems, we tend to ignore the positive aspect and are blinded by the problem. For instance when anxiety creeps in, we can say to ourselves: I am not going to die, I am not going to die and I am not going to die.. to calm ourselves.

Changing the Perspective

Ryan Holiday talks about perspective and how a change in perspective affects our decision making. He cites a one liner by Richard Branson as: Business opportunities are like buses; there’s always another coming around.

The book ‘The obstacle is the way’ summarizes that we need to change our perspective so that even the difficult situations should make us sound calm.

It quotes the example of George Clooney who toiled hard for getting into Hollywood but initially thought that he should be liked. By changing the perspective, he became the need of the producers as now he was the solution. He now knew what the producers were looking for in an actor. Holiday has told us that perception precedes action.

‘The Obstacle is the Way’ compels us to be persistent in our action while quoting the example of Tommy John whose ligament was replaced but he was consistent and made a mark in baseball.

Pushing Oneself Hard and harder

Steve Jobs has been the most quoted entrepreneur when it comes to consistency and innovation and the tech guru made his way to this book as well for reason that he was the one who continued to strive more and more, pushing people beyond their limits.

The book cites the example of how Jobs pushed his employees beyond their limits and got the things done which once seemed impossible, an example of which is delivery of Macintosh computer on time despite that the team had once declined to meet the deadline.

The book outlines that blessings and burdens are not mutually exclusive which is another way of saying : No pain, no gain.

The book talks about persistency and quotes Edison who tested 6 thousand different filaments and came out with a successful bulb. Ryan Holiday has asked us to persist and resist in it that we should persist in our efforts and resist the distractions.

How Silicon valley Works

I love reading books for the fact that this gives you new pieces of information which are entirely different from the subject matter at hand.

For instance, in ‘The Obstacle Is The Way’, it has been revealed that start ups in Silicon valley launch their ‘Minimum Viable Product (MVP)’ which is the most basic version of their core idea.

The rationale behind this idea is to see the response of the consumers before launching the product. This comes down to one point which is ‘iteration’ i.e repeating again and again till the product is in excellent shape. Moreover, the MVP model encourages failure and feedback. Ryan Holiday asks us to see ourselves as a start up which needs feedback and improvement.

More from The Obstacle Is The Way

The book is an exciting journey from facing obstacles to tackling them and finally using them to our advantage. It says that being trapped is just a position and it is not a fate.

The author forces us to do our job with dedication and commitment, no matter how much odd it is. Ryan Holiday asks us to be pragmatic and ruthless even if we are not perfect at this moment because we need to take action and move on. The author implies that the front door to any opportunity may be locked but there are the side doors and back doors to get through.

From an individual level to the national level, obstacles can be turned around. See, for example the movement launched by Gandhi who did virtually nothing as compared to the British empire but brought that empire to its knees.

An amazing one liner suggests that a castle can be seen as an insurmountable fortress or it can be seen as a prison if surrounded by troops. It asks us to be humble while quoting Mike Tyson who said if you are not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.

Ryan Holiday has forced us to see the good in every bad and opportunity in every obstacle.

About the Author

He is 34 years old now. He is a college dropout. He has authored 10 books. He has written on subjects like marketing, culture, human conditions. He founded a company named Brass Check which has advised corporate giants like Google.

His books like Ego is the Enemy, Courage is Calling, Stillness is the key can be bought from below links.

Tim Ferriss describes him as he is ‘part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy, and all results…this whiz kid is the secret weapon you’ve never heard of’.

He lives in Austin, Texas.

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