The Obstacle is the Way
THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY, gifted to me by Stephen, served as my introduction to the philosophy of Stoicism. Based on the principles of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and enriched with stories of some of history’s greatest leaders, THE OBSTACLE IS THE WAY presents a formula for turning life’s toughest trails into our greatest achievements. Holiday dives deep into the school of thought that created ancient leaders such as Aurelius, Seneca, Fredrick the Great to modern day pioneers such as Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Steve Jobs.
The definition of stoicism is the endurance of hardship without outward display of emotion and without complaint. I’ve always considered myself a cool-headed person and not keen to the idea of wearing my heart on my sleeve; and, up until starting this book, I’ve thought of it as a disadvantage. I’ve always questioned why am I not more outwardly passionate about things, why do most things not make me extremely upset or extremely happy? But after studying the philosophy of Stoicism, I’ve learned that some of the most successful people have used a mellow demeanor as a powerful tactic. It’s important to keep in mind that every pitfall or every obstacle can be used as a learning opportunity for further growth; it purely takes the mindset to create it. Even death, to which no one is immune, can create incredible purpose in one’s life. Holiday develops a profound point: “And so, if even our own mortality can have some benefit how dare you say that you can’t derive value from each and every other kind of obstacle you encounter?”
I highly recommend Holiday’s study of stoicism and the study of how icons of history- from Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart- have proved to turn obstacles into opportunities. Holiday displays how these men and women were no more brilliant, lucky or gifted than their peers but produced the astounding triumphs we seek.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
– Marcus Aurelius