The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday


Our actions may be impeded. . . but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacles to our acting.

The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way. 

He truly saw each and every one of these obstacles as an opportunity to practice some virtues: patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice and creativity.

Bad companies are destroyed by crises. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.

Oh, how blessed young men are who have to struggle for a foundation and beginning in life.

Nothing we’ll experience is likely without potential benefit. 

She simply chose to see each situation for what it could be—accompanied by hard work and a little upbeat spirit.

There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.

What such a man needs is not courage but nerve control, cool headedness. This he can get only by practice.

Grace and poise are the most sought-after attributes that proceed the opportunity to deploy any other skill.

Nerve is a matter of defiance and control.

There is always a countermove, always an escape or a way through, so there is no reason to get worked up. No one said it would be easy and, of course, the stakes are high, but the path is there for those ready to take it.

Uncertainty and fear are relieved by authority. Training is authority. It’s a release valve. With enough exposure, you can adapt out those perfectly ordinary, even innate, fears that are bred mostly from unfamiliarity. 

Obstacles make us emotional, but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those emotions in check—if we can keep steady no matter what happens, no matter how much external events may fluctuate.

We defeat emotions with logic. Logic is questions and statements. With enough of them, we get to root causes.

The perceiving eye is weak, the observing eye is strong.

Objectivity means removing “you”—the subjective part—from the equation.

Perspective is everything. 

When you can break apart something, or look at it, from some new angle, it loses its power over you.

A simple shift in perspective can change our reaction entirely. 

As a professional athlete, his job was to parse the difference between the unlikely and the impossible.

They didn’t know whether it would get better or worse, they just knew what was.

Having learned early in life that reality was falsely hemmed in by rules and compromises that people had been taught as children, Jobs had a much more aggressive idea of what was or wasn’t possible. To him, when you factored in vision and work ethic, much of life was malleable. 

He knew that to aim low meant to accept mediocre accomplishments. But a high aim could, if things went right, create something extraordinary. 

Jobs refused to tolerate people who didn’t believe in their own abilities to succeed. Even if his demands were unfair, uncomfortable, or ambitious. 

There is good in everything, if only we look for it.

Once you see the world as it is, for what it is, you must act.

Boldness is acting anyway, even though you understand the reality of your obstacle. Decide to tackle what stands in your way—not because you’re a gambler defying the odds but because you’ve calculated them and boldly embraced the risk.

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. And you’ve got to start now. 

We talk a lot about courage as a society, but we forget that at its most basic level it’s really just taking action.

Edison once explained that in inventing, “the first step is an intuition—and comes with a burst—then difficulties arise.” What set Edison apart from other inventors is tolerance for these difficulties, and the steady dedication with which he applied himself towards solving them.

Action and failure are two sides of the same coin.

Being trapped is just a position, not a fate. You get out of it by addressing and eliminating each part of that position through small, deliberate action—not by trying (and failing) to push it away with superhuman strength. 

The process is about doing the right things, right now. Not worrying about what might happen later, or the results, or the whole picture. 

Don’t worry about the “right” way, worry about the right way. This is how we get things done.

Sometimes in your life you need to have patience—wait for temporary obstacles to fizzle out.

When we want things too badly we can be our own worst enemy.

What you must do is learn how to press forward precisely when everyone around you sees disaster. 

You never want a serious crisis to go to waste. Things that we had postponed for too long, that were long-term, are now immediate and must be dealt with. A crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.

Ordinary people shy away from negative situations, just as they do with failure. They do their best to avoid trouble. 

Life speeds on the bold and favors the brave. 

If Perception and Action were the disciplines of the mind and the body, then Will is the discipline of the heart and the soul. The will is the one thing we control completely, always. Whereas I can try to mitigate harmful perceptions and give 100 percent of my energy to actions, those attempts can be thwarted or inhibited. My will is different, because it is within me.

Man proposed but God disposes.

Amor Fati - The Love of Fate

Death doesn’t make life pointless, but rather purposeful. 

Memento mori - Remember you are mortal.

We forget how light our grip on life really is.

Perceive things are they are, leave no options unexplored, then stand strong and transform whatever can’t be changed. Our actions give us the confidence to ignore or control our perceptions. We prove and support our will with our actions.