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The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage Paperback – 27 May 2015
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A book for the bedside of every future - and current - leader in the world. -- Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power and Mastery
An absolute must-read. A kind of user's manual for life, you will turn to it time and time again and learn to tear through any obstacle and resolve any conflict. -- Jimmy Soni, managing editor of Huffington Post, author of Rome's Last Citizen
A very, very good book with lots of examples about people who had to overcome great obstacles to have success. -- Nick Saban, head football coach at the University of Alabama
The best one I've read. Ryan Holiday is brilliant. If I had read The Obstacle Is the Way sooner, a few things might have been different. -- Rory McIlroy, 2x PGA Champion
Follow these precepts and you will revolutionize your life. Read this book! -- Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art and Gates of Fire
My life has been beset with obstacles. It takes practice (and pain) to surmount them and achieve success. Ryan's book is a how-to guide for just that. -- James Altucher, investor and author of Choose Yourself
The book on stoicism that's taking the NFL by storm. ― Sports Illustrated
Ryan Holiday has written a brilliant and engaging book, well beyond his years. . . . It is invaluable. -- Honorable Frederic Block, Judge, U.S. District Court
Even though I was familiar with the basis for this book - the ancient philosophy of stoicism: overcoming obstacles through the practice of wisdom, courage, self-control, and mindfulness - it felt like a revelation when I read it. -- Allison K. Hill ― Los Angeles Daily News
Ryan Holiday is part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy ... this whiz kid is the secret weapon you've never heard of. -- Tim Ferriss ― The 4-Hour Work Week
[The book that's] turning the entrepreneurs and the moguls into hard-wired stoics ― The Times
The Obstacle is the Way decants in concentrated form the timeless techniques for self-mastery as employed to world-conquering effect by philosophers and men of action from Alexander the Great to Marcus Aurelius to Steve Jobs. Follow these precepts and you will revolutionize your life. As Mr Holiday writes, "It's simple, it's just not easy." Read this book! -- Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of 'The War of Art and Gates of Fire'
An absolute must-read. -- Jimmy Soni, managing editor of Huffington Post, author of Rome’s Last Citizen
In this tight, engaging book, Ryan Holiday shines a bright, powerful light on the path to living and leading well. Read it, learn from it, and get cracking! -- Nancy F. Koehn, historian and leadership expert, Harvard Business School
Tremendous! Go buy every book that Ryan Holiday has written. -- John Tesh, host of national radio show Intelligence for Your Life
About the Author
- Publisher : Profile Trade; Main edition (27 May 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 224 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1781251495
- ISBN-13 : 978-1781251492
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 2,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from Australia
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That said, "The Obstacle is the Way" held the vast majority of my attention from Go to Whoah.
Holiday has compiled the philosophy of the stoics with the stories of real people to send a very clear and somewhat repetitive message: "Chin up champ... that spectacularly s***ty situation is actually an opportunity for you to own it like a Boss. If you choose to!"
Don't get me wrong, saying "somewhat repetitive message" isn't a negative. Barring some form of once in a life-time, life-changing event, your mindset isn't going to change overnight. Repetition is necessary. Repetition is necessary. Repetition is necessary.
Have already recommended it to others. Time for a good hard look at yourself.
That does not take away from the value of the book that it is.
This is a book about people who came to know that to be successful we should deal with what is infront of us and not turn back or try to side step what we find.
It’s a valuable read
There is little doubt that life if full of obstacles and that overcoming these makes you a better person but the journey to overcome them is challenging and none more so unless you have the determination to tackle with these with resolve.
This book is certainly inspiring and challenging in the path that it points you along, however don't be fooled that it is an easy path. Yet, take solace in the fact that it is a path that a great many embark on but few complete. The book is easy to read and quite enjoyable and does challenge you to do better by demonstrating how others have got on with what needs doing and when they reflect back the challenges don't seem quite so great.
This book is for those who are committed on a path of self improvement and appreciate the fact that they live in an imperfect world, much of which is beyond their control. It should inspire you and show you that this path is the one worth taking although it may not appear that way at the outset.
Leading a good life is more about a philosophy than any secret formula. This book demonstrates that it is possible and that the challenge is to embrace the obstacles and see them as integral to being alive. That however is no easy process but possible as many others throughout history can attest to.
I like the sequence of short insights all reinforcing the three tenets of stoicism: "see things for what they are; do what we can; and endure i.e bear what we must
It has two faults though. The first is its omission of any focus on practical application of the ideas it puts forward. The second is that while it's clearly written for a US audience and so has lots of references to icons of that culture, which is fine, claims that persistence and other similar traits are uniquely American (sic) limit the credibility of the author as an educated global citizen.
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 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.
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 Way: don't by this book. I did, and now The Way for me is to warn others (as even a Kindle price of £1.89 is too much) so that this chancer isn't rewarded and you can spend your money on something better.