The Obstacle Is The Way | Summarized by the Author (Ryan Holiday)

Key Takeaways

  • “The Rockefellers make money because they are cool under pressure; they didn’t get rattled by external events.” – Ryan Holiday
  • Divide something into smaller parts by being clear, calm, and objective. The goal is to see the good inside the bad and take action
  • What we think of determines the quality of our mind, but thoughts alone are nothing without action
  • Not every obstacle should be confronted head-on; sometimes you need creativity, strategy 
  • Use everything that happened to you as fuel – this is what stoicism is all about
  • Stoics accept things that are outside of their control to focus on things that are in their control
  • “No event is so bad that you can’t decide to learn something from it.”Ryan Holiday

Key Books Mentioned

  • The Obstacle Is the Way by Ryan Holiday
    • Over one million copies sold
    • #1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller
    • The first in Ryan’s trilogy of works on Stoicism

Intro

  • Ryan Holiday (T: @RyanHoliday and IG: @ryanholiday ) is an author, bookstore owner, and host of the podcast The Daily Stoic 
    • In his book The Obstacle Is the Way, Ryan explains how the ancient school of philosophy called Stoicism can help us overcome problems in the modern world
    • Check out Ryan’s website
  • “Inside every obstacle is a chance to prove our condition.”Ryan Holiday
  • Don’t have time to read Ryan’s book or even these notes? Do not despair, practice only this one quote, and you are golden:

“Objective judgment, now, at this very moment. 

Unselfish action, now, at this very moment. 

Willing acceptance-now, at this very moment-of all external events. That’s all you need.”Marcus Aurelius

Part 1: Perception

  • The first step is looking at and examining your problems
  • John D. Rockefeller became one of the world’s wealthiest men because he had discipline amid chaos
    • He turned economic crises into opportunities. They gave him a chance to grow, and learn about the market (at its best and worst)
    • “The Rockefellers make money because they are cool under pressure, they don’t get rattled by external events.”Ryan Holiday
    • That kind of discipline comes from training
  • Where other people see difficulty and hopelessness, you have to see something positive
    • Practice until you get to a place where you aren’t scared anymore, even when things go wrong
    • The more you expose yourself, the more you will learn and the better you will be
    • This is why police officers and athletes can perform under pressure – they’ve done it many times
  • Pericles in the Peloponnesian war
    • Casting off with the Athenian navy, they encountered an eclipse
    • In ancient Greece, people were not familiar with eclipse phenomena
    • They were terrified but Pericles understood that darkness itself is not scary
  • Divide something into smaller parts by being clear, calm, and objective
    • The goal is to see the good inside the bad and take action

Part 2: Action

  • “The soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts.”Marcus Aurelius 
    • What we think of determines the quality of our mind
    • But thoughts alone are nothing without action
    • “The stoics are action, action, action.” – Ryan Holiday
  • Demosthenes was weak, had a speech impediment, his parents died early and his relatives stole the family fortune
    • Instead of surrendering, Demosthenes decided to fight for justice
    • He became a great orator and lawyer because of the injustice he experienced 
    • He practiced for years to overcome his speech impediment: speaking in front of a mirror, speaking with pebbles in his mouth, repeating verses when out of breath
  • We can turn our worst experiences into a jumping-off point for who we want to be
    • Things are never going to be ideal
    • “Work with what you can, do what you can with what you got and then turn it into what you want”Ryan Holiday
    • Overcoming obstacles is about persistence and dedication and following a methodical process
  • It took six years for “The Obstacle is The Way” to sell
    • That is because Ryan never quit and got distracted by external results
    • He focused every day on doing little things to make the book better
    • Small steps make big changes; the idea relates to James Clear and how to build and change habits
    • Not every obstacle should be confronted head-on; sometimes you need creativity, strategy 
  • Maybe you can go around or under the obstacle, or run the other direction (outthink, outflank, outmaneuver)

Part 3: Will

  • Abraham Lincoln was poor, had an abusive father, lost his mother, dealt with depression
    • Every difficulty and pain he went through was leading up to who he needed to be
    • He knows what pain is, how to be patient, and how to think about other people
  • Use everything that happened to you as fuel – this is what stoicism is all about
    • Stoics accept things that are outside of their control to focus on things that are in their control
  • “But beyond acceptance is an embracing, a love of what’s happened”Ryan Holiday 
    • Once Thomas Edison’s factory burned down, he didn’t cry and despair 
    • Together with his wife and children, he admired the biggest fire he was ever going to see
    • Then he rebuilt and came back even stronger because of what he’s been through
  • Think about the last mistake you made, will you learn something from it and grow because of it, or will you give up?
  • “No event is so bad that you can’t decide to learn something from it.”Ryan Holiday
The Daily Stoic : , , , , ,
Notes By Dario

More Notes on these topics

Top Insights and Tactics From

31 Best Podcasts of All Time

FREE when you join over 25,000 subscribers to the
Podcast Notes newsletter

No Thanks