The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." (Marcus Aurelius)
We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn't be this way. There is a formula for success that's been followed by the icons of history - from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs - a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they found the astounding triumphs we all seek.
These men and women were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted. Their success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor who struggled to articulate a method for excellence in any and all situations.
This book reveals that formula for the first time - and shows us how we can turn our own adversity into advantage.
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|Listening Length||6 hours and 7 minutes|
|Whispersync for Voice||Ready|
|Audible.com Release Date||May 06, 2014|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #257 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#3 in Philosophy Movements (Books)
#4 in Philosophy (Audible Books & Originals)
#7 in Business Motivation & Self-Improvement (Audible Books & Originals)
Reviewed in the United States on August 4, 2017
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One of the most helpful applications of this book is changing the ways I interact with my family of origin. My parents and siblings are anxious, doubtful, and pessimistic. For the most part, I am not. However, for years I've struggled with my own reactions to being around them. Every family holiday or vacation caused me to regress to adolescence, and after each event, it took weeks for me to recover. Through this book, I realized that my reacting to their reactivity was totally ironic. I don't have to react to them. Once I became aware of this, it became a choice. Now, I can choose to see these family events as opportunities to feel grateful for my own equanimity. And when I do lose balance, I can be easy on myself, because I remember that new habits take a while to develop. I can also choose to remove myself from environments that aren't serving me.
Very empowering, very practical. Thank you, Ryan Holiday!
It is definitely an entertaining book and if that is what you are after by all means enjoy. For self improvement and moderate stoic insight it would also be an acceptable and useful addition to ones library.
For deeper exploration and prescriptive tools to start your journey in to Stoicism refer to Donald Robertson's Stoicism and the Art of Happiness. For continuous study and original works look for Epictetus's Discourses and The Enchiridion (My favorites) as well as Seneca's Letters From A Stoic.
For advanced application look to Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. For broadening your sphere look to works by Rufus, Zeno, and Socrates.
So many years, so much pop-psychobabble, yet the ancients had the most pragmatic approach all along. Makes sense, when you stop to think of how much harder and less predictable life was.
Top reviews from other countries
He does explain the basics, so it's not a bad book to read if you have never encountered Stoic ideas before, but he doesn't seem to cover the subject in any depth. I'm waiting for him to introduce concepts like Eudaimonia and Apatheia, but this book reads too much like a self-help book for my taste. He's constantly offering military insights, not all of them accurate (The German attack on Poland in 1939 was a series of Kesselslachen, not Blitzkrieg). Lots of them are about American generals, quite a rich field where you can find many good examples, but after a quick introduction of Sherman (for example), he briefly discusses his personal qualities and he then moves on. Sherman wasn't a stoic (He was a Catholic as an adult), it's as if the author is trying to find things that can be used to support his views. Sherman was mired in controversy several times in his life and had a nervous breakdown in 1861. He was an effective general but not a good choice to support the book's narrative. This book is more like a magazine article or an essay written by someone who knows nothing about the subject but has researched it well on-line.
There are a lot of better books to read on the subject that offer more depth and better insights. I'd not recommend this book to anyone who showed any interest in the subject.
The man is a tv marketer by background - he knows how to fool the masses. And he has somehow managed to get his online badly written life changing course printed.
He basically takes a few basic stoic concepts - don’t worry about what you can’t control, work hard, remain positive etc - and spin a book out of it. Throw in the names of Marcus Aurelius and Seneca along with some modern anecdotes and you are deemed a genius, according to a few people on the back (who clearly haven’t read the book or are part of the self help pyramid scheme)
The anecdotes themselves are horribly cliché. Just name drops people that everyone will know such as Edison, Lincol, Eisenhower, the Lakers (marketing 101 - don’t lose your audience). The bits and bobs of history are so basic and sometimes just wrong - I’m not sure he even bothered to google some of it.
The attempts at motivation amount to little other than “are you ready to go to work? Let’s get to work!”
The writing is blatantly dreadful and nauseating “Lincoln possessed an inner mental fortress that girdered him” Jesus.
It might seem like a good book if you are under 20 and haven't read any self help books before but if you’ve ever read any few before this, you will be quite disappointed with this.
The book is then subsequently sectioned into 3 parts on (i) perspective, (ii) action and (iii) will/perseverance. Each part is divided into roughly 8-10 sub sections. Each sub section is several pages long and offers one key insight. e.g. perspective can be objective/subjective or perspectives create opportunities etc etc.
The book uses anecdotes of successful historical figures to validate ideas which includes the use of Politicians (Lincoln, Roosevelt), Athletes (Hurricane Carter), George Clooney to name a few. There is also many references to Stoic philosophers (Epictetus, Demosthenes, Marcus etc).
Overall I agreed mostly with the proposition of the book. I didn't however believe that the anecdotes supply sufficient reasoning to argue these points. It felt that the author cherry-picked case-studies to fit his narrative.
I also tended to find the writing style was slightly awkward and a lot of sentences were of this nature: "leadership requires determination, energy and courage" which by itself often seemed irrelevant. The author also feels the need to use 2 descriptive words at all instances, e.g. "It's easier to persist in our efforts and actions than to endure the uncomfortable or the painful"
Furthermore, if the reader has read about Stoicism before (e.g. The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by Irvine) then much of the Stoic ideas are recycled. For an introduction to Stoicism with logical arguments I would recommend Irvine (5* read).
To conclude I feel the overall idea is good. This book will be useful for anyone who has to deal with adverse circumstances. It will appeal to people who prefer anecdotes over reasoning.
He also says we should ignore our feelings and perceptions. While I agree that we should be skeptical of our feelings as they can be unhelpful, we should from time to time at least try to understand where they come from. His approach seems to be to bury our heads in the sand, this seems like the road to toxic masculinity. He likes a bit of good old fashioned male bravado, life is a race and you have to win.
He doesn't take into account simple bad luck and other variables and simply repeats page after page that we need to tackle our problems. We do, but there are other things at play.
For example if our boss asks something unfeasible at work we shouldn't question it, just put our head down and work harder. Working harder seems to be his main tip for a better life, making him sound like Boxer from Animal Farm. Don't question authority or the status quo, just shut up and get on with it. I can imagine what he thinks of protests like BLM.
There are some useful tips however, such as approach obstacles as an opportunity to practice a virtue, such as patience, forgiveness or courage and that we are in control of how we react to our problems. Also we are all guilty of procrastination at times and could benefit from more action. I agree that life is hard and often things contradict themselves. (I'm doing it in this review)
I agree that a degree of anxiety is required in every life but Holiday's approach will have people slitting their wrists and having sky high blood pressure all over the place. He's reinforcing a dog eat dog world where there has to winners and losers. If you're not the next Steve Jobs, cunningly defeating your enemies and taking all the credit, you're a failure and should be ashamed for not working harder. Something Seneca will help us come to terms with a million times better than Holiday.