Derek Sivers
The Obstacle Is the Way - by Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle Is the Way - by Ryan Holiday

ISBN: 1591846358
Date read: 2014-06-30
How strongly I recommend it: 8/10
(See my list of 360+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

A succinct adrenaline-generating call to clear thinking and rational action. Many historical examples. Incredibly inspiring.

my notes

Something stands in someone’s way.
They stare it down, they aren’t intimidated.
Leaning into their problem or weakness or issue, they give everything they have, mentally and physically.
Even though they did not always overcome it in the way they intended or expected, each individual emerged better, stronger.

Have unflappable coolness under pressure.

Keep your head while everyone else loses theirs.

Resist impulse in favor of cold, hard common sense.

when Hurricane Carter walked out of prison, he simply resumed his life. Carter did not even request an apology from the court. Because to him, that would imply that they’d taken something of his that he felt he was owed.

There are always people out there looking to get you. They want to intimidate you. Rattle you. Pressure you into making a decision before you’ve gotten all the facts. They want you thinking and acting on their terms, not yours.

When you worry, ask yourself, ‘What am I choosing to not see right now?’

The observing eye sees events, clear of distractions, exaggerations, and misperceptions. The perceiving eye sees “insurmountable obstacles” or “major setbacks” or even just “issues.” It brings its own issues to the fight. The former is helpful, the latter is not.

Marcus Aurelius described glamorous or expensive things without their euphemisms - roasted meat is a dead animal and vintage wine is old, fermented grapes. The aim was to see these things as they really are, without any of the ornamentation.

Take your situation and pretend it is not happening to you. How much easier would it be for you to know what to do?

We often choose the ominous explanation over the simple one, to our detriment.

Don't ignore fear, but explain it away.

Everything changed for George Clooney when he tried a new perspective. He realized that casting is an obstacle for producers, too - they need to find somebody, and they’re all hoping that the next person to walk in the room is the right somebody. Auditions were a chance to solve their problem, not his. From Clooney’s new perspective, he was that solution. He wasn’t going to be someone groveling for a shot. He was someone with something special to offer. He was the answer to their prayers, not the other way around

Socrates had a mean, nagging wife; he always said that being married to her was good practice for philosophy.

The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.

Demosthenes locked himself away underground - literally - in a dugout he’d had built in which to study and educate himself. To ensure he wouldn’t indulge in outside distractions, he shaved half his head so he’d be too embarrassed to go outside. When he did venture out, it was to learn even more. Every moment, every conversation, every transaction, was an opportunity for him to improve

We may be able to articulate a problem, even potential solutions, but then weeks, months, or sometimes years later, the problem is still there. Or it’s gotten worse. As though we expect someone else to handle it, as though we honestly believe that there is a chance of obstacles unobstacle-ing themselves. We’ve all done it. Said: “I am so [overwhelmed, tired, stressed, busy, blocked, outmatched].” And then what do we do about it? Go out and party. Or treat ourselves. Or sleep in. Or wait. It feels better to ignore or pretend. But you know deep down that that isn’t going to truly make it any better. You’ve got to act.

While overpaid CEOs take long vacations and hide behind e-mail autoresponders, some programmer is working eighteen-hour days coding the start-up that will destroy that CEO’s business. While you’re sleeping, traveling, attending meetings, or messing around online, the same thing is happening to you. You’re going soft. You’re not aggressive enough. You’re not pressing ahead. You’ve got a million reasons why you can’t move at a faster pace.

The process (path of the craftman) is about finishing. Finishing games. Finishing workouts. Finishing film sessions. Finishing drives. Finishing reps. Finishing plays. Finishing blocks. Finishing the smallest task you have right in front of you and finishing it well.

Everything is a chance to do and be your best.

Victor Frankl: “What is the meaning of life?” As though it is someone else’s responsibility to tell you. Instead, he said, the world is asking you that question. And it’s your job to answer with your actions.

Right action - unselfish, dedicated, masterful, creative - that is the answer to that question.

Two rival American fruit companies wanted to acquire the same five thousand acres of valuable land. Two different locals claimed to own the deed. United Fruit dispatched a team of high-powered lawyers. They set out in search of every file and scrap of paper in the country, ready to pay whatever it cost to win. The tiny, uneducated competitor just met separately with both of the supposed owners and bought the land from each of them. He paid twice, sure, but it was over. The land was his. Forget the rule book, settle the issue.

Søren Kierkegaard would write under pseudonyms, where each fake personality would embody a different platform or perspective - writing multiple times on the same subject from multiple angles.

He would rarely tell the reader “do this” or “think that.” Instead he would show new ways of looking at or understanding the world.

External factors influence the path, but not the direction: forward.

That which blocks our path actually presents a new path.

If someone you love hurts you, there is a chance to practice forgiveness. If your business fails, now you can practice acceptance.

Always prepare ourselves for more difficult times.

The ancient philosophers. Every bit of the philosophy they developed was intended to reshape, prepare, and fortify them for the challenges to come. Many saw themselves as mental athletes

The person ready to be disappointed won’t be.

Things can always be worse. Lose money? Remember, you could have lost a friend. Lost that job? What if you’d lost a limb? Lost your house? You could have lost everything.

Nature, in order to be commanded, must be obeyed.

Why on earth would you choose to feel anything but good?

If I can’t solve this for myself, how can I at least make this better for other people?

Behind mountains are more mountains.

Transform fear into prudence, pain into transformation, mistakes into initiation and desire into undertaking.