Excerpts from “The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday

I was in the middle of a different book when I decided to pick up “The Obstacle is the Way” by Ryan Holiday. Next, I was binging on this book just as much as I binged on a few Netflix shows! What can I say, I am workaholic and being unemployed after going back to school to better myself continues to be a huge slap in the face. Naturally, I could totally relate to Holiday’s message because the situation I am in is utterly new and challenging to me.

As much as I would love to charmingly summarize Ryan Holiday’s words of wisdom he has curated from some of the greatest leaders in history, I am instead going to share with you the 6-8 excerpts that I’ve dog-eared for myself to sort of meditate on when things aren’t happening the way I would like. I hope reading these excerpts helps you to get motivated, stay positive and objectively overcome any negativity or obstacle you are facing in life.


“What is PEREPTION? It’s how we see and understand what occurs around us – and what we decide those events will mean. Our perceptions can be a source of strength or of great weakness. If we are emotional, subjective, and short sighted, we only add to our troubles. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practiced, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives. It takes skill and discipline to bat away the pests of bad perceptions, to separate reliable signals from deceptive ones, to filter out prejudice, expectation, and fear. But it’s worth it, for what’s left is truth. While others are excited or afraid, we will remain calm and imperturbable. We will see things simply and straightforwardly, as they truly are – neither good nor bad. This will be an incredible advantage for us in the fight against obstacles”

“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, no matter how much external events may fluctuate.

The Greeks had a word for this: apatheia

Its the kind of calm equanimity that comes with the absence of irrational or extreme emotions. Not the loss of feeling altogether, just the loss of the harmful, unhelpful kind. Don’t let the negativity in, don’t let those emotions even get started. Just say: No, thank you. I can’t afford to panic.”

“Everything we do matters — whether it’s making smoothies while you save up money or studying for the bar –even after you already achieved success you sought. Everything is a chance to do and be your best. Only self-absorbed assholes think they are too good for whatever their current station requires.”

“This is the avenue for the final discipline: the Will. If Perception and Action were the disciplines of the mind and the body, then Will is the discipline of the heart and soul. The Will is one thing we control completely, always.”

“Life is not about one obstacle, but many. What’s required of us is not shortsighted focus on a single facet of a problem, but simply a determination that we will get to where we need to go, somehow, someway, and nothing will stop us.

We will overcome every obstacle –and there will be many in life — until we get there. Persistence is an action. Perseverance is a matter of will. One is energy. The other is endurance


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