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#1 Wall Street Journal Bestseller
The Obstacle is the Way has become a cult classic, beloved by men and women around the world who apply its wisdom to become more successful at whatever they do.
Its many fans include a former governor and movie star (Arnold Schwarzenegger), a hip hop icon (LL Cool J), an Irish tennis pro (James McGee), an NBC sportscaster (Michele Tafoya), and the coaches and players of winning teams like the New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Chicago Cubs, and University of Texas men’s basketball team.
The book draws its inspiration from stoicism, the ancient Greek philosophy of enduring pain or adversity with perseverance and resilience. Stoics focus on the things they can control, let go of everything else, and turn every new obstacle into an opportunity to get better, stronger, tougher. As Marcus Aurelius put it nearly 2000 years ago: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
Ryan Holiday shows us how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Their embrace of these principles ultimately mattered more than their natural intelligence, talents, or luck.
If you’re feeling frustrated, demoralized, or stuck in a rut, this book can help you turn your problems into your biggest advantages. And along the way it will inspire you with dozens of true stories of the greats from every age and era.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Even if you don’t think of philosophy as relevant or fun, Ryan Holiday is here to change your mind. With this fast, fascinating, and uplifting read, Holiday introduces us to the teachings of the Stoics, a school of ancient Greeks who believed that life’s biggest challenges are actually its greatest gifts—since they give us the opportunity to learn, adapt, and reach new heights. Holiday’s paints their philosophies as an appealing way to look at life, peppering his book with surprising examples of how Stoicism has been reflected in the words and deeds of some of the most celebrated people in history, from Thomas Edison to Barack Obama. Smart, plain-spoken, and fun to read, The Obstacle is the Way shows us how Stoicism has tons of applications in real life, such as learning how to anticipate worst-case scenarios so that surprises won’t steamroll you if and when they happen. If watching The Good Place got you interested in exploring philosophy on your own, this is a great next step.
Holiday (Trust Me, I'm Lying), "media manipulator" and master of the dark art of marketing, returns with a collection of bite-sized, intensely written aphorisms and parables about learning how to see "through the negative, past its underside, and into its corollary: the positive." Starting with figures no less august than Marcus Aurelius and John D. Rockefeller, Holiday collects historical anecdotes from politics, commerce, sports, and history as well as some light re-readings of classical philosophy and loosely structures them around the three skills he sees as essential to succeeding in the face of adversity: perception, action, and will. These sections outline stories and limited strategies that will encourage readers to creatively redefine obstacles as opportunities, act with less fear of failure by better processing the emotion, and develop the "resilience" and "flexibility" necessary to soldier through difficult situations. Holiday's charismatic, if slightly Delphic, stories will be welcomed by readers of The 48 Laws of Power and similar works of advice, but frustrating to readers accustomed to more empirically sourced and pedagogically developed works on motivation and adversity. Still, Holiday's performance is commanding and optimistic, sure to inspire readers to take new perspective on their apparent obstacles.