“A good person dyes events with his own color…and turns whatever happens to his own benefit.” – Seneca
From the outside looking in, the last several weeks have been disaster after disaster for me:
- Death in the family
- Several deals that have been worked on for 6+ months fell apart at the last minute
- I might need to sue someone for egregious breach of contract and unexpected damages
- On and on and on…
I’ve thought of several books over and over again during this period to cope. One of them was The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday). It has helped me to turn problems upside-down, look at them through a different lens, and even uncover unique opportunities.
The Obstacle Is The Way is a collection of stories and principles about Stoicism, which I consider to be the ultimate personal “operating system” for anyone who wants to thrive in high-stress environments and situations.
If you want to be antifragile like Thomas Jefferson, Marcus Aurelius, Bill Belichick, and many of the most dominant investors in history, Stoicism offers a real playbook. If you want to make better decisions, if you want to smile when other people cower, it offers real tools.
To quote Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” What if you could be a person who is improved by crisis? At the very least, it would give you opportunities no one else can see, let alone grasp. Much more important, it would make you a happier human being.
Here are a few sample chapters from The Obstacle Is The Way. Please enjoy!
- Listen to it on Apple Podcasts.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
Want to hear another podcast featuring Ryan Holiday and Stoicism? — In this episode, we discuss the “big three” Stoics, how Stoicism applies to the modern world, and how to improve your decision-making when stakes are high (stream below or right-click here to download):
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.
Scroll below for links and show notes…
SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE
- Connect with Ryan Holiday:
- The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday
- Fear-Setting: The Most Valuable Exercise I Do Every Month (my most recent TED Talk)
- Tim Ferriss Book Club at Audible
- The Moral Sayings of Publius Syrus: A Roman Slave by Publilius Syrus
- The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe
- Achieving Apatheia: 7 Steps to Controlling Your Perceptions Like a Stoic by Ryan Holiday, Medium
- The Gift of Fear and Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence by Gavin de Becker
- A Leadership Lesson From Eisenhower’s Stoic Reversal at D-Day by Ryan Holiday, Entrepreneur
- Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Xanthippe, Socrates, and Rationalizing Wives’ Abusive Behavior by Douglas Galbi, Purple Motes
- Exploring Adversity and the Potential for Growth among Elite Female Athletes by Katherine A.Tamminen et al., Psychology of Sport and Exercise
- Here’s the Strategy Elite Athletes Follow to Perform at the Highest Level by Ryan Holiday
- The Unfathomable Power of Amor Fati by Ryan Holiday, Observer
- Jack Johnson vs. Jim Jeffries (July 4th, 1910)
- The high cost of not being in control of our own emotions under pressure and how astronauts train to keep panic at bay on risky missions. [07:15]
- Cultivating apatheia. [10:35]
- What important things are you missing because you chose worry over introspection, alertness, or wisdom? Does getting upset provide you with more options? [11:34]
- Being in control of your emotions doesn’t mean you don’t have to feel them. [12:00]
- We defeat emotions with logic. [12:54]
- How General Eisenhower found opportunity to defeat Germany within its own seemingly unstoppable Blitzkrieg strategy during WWII. [14:48]
- Controlling our emotions allows us to find opportunities within obstacles because we’re not discouraged, upset, or otherwise distracted by them. [17:45]
- By assuming disaster is imminent, our preconceptions are the problem. But seeing opportunity in the obstacle gives us a chance to grow. [18:05]
- Rising up to the challenge of our rival. [19:52]
- Blessings and burdens are not mutually exclusive. [20:18]
- Why “That which doesn’t kill me makes me stronger” is not a cliche but fact. [21:01]
- Developing a piercing gaze that sees the gift of opportunity through whatever ugly wrapping surrounds it. [21:55]
- Excellence is a matter of steps. Follow the process. [23:37]
- Don’t think about the end — think about surviving. [25:34]
- What meteorology pioneer James Pollard Espy learned about the process from his hero Henry Clay. [26:07]
- We become masters of our craft by following the thread to the next action. [27:12]
- If you keep a clear head and follow the process, being trapped is just a position, not a fate. [28:52]
- How often do we assume that change is impossible because it’s too big? [29:55]
- Adhering to the process conquers distraction. [31:12]
- To do great things, we need to be able to endure — even learn to love — tragedy and setbacks. [32:28]
- Even Edison, at age 67, wasn’t too old to make a fresh start when his research campus burned to the ground. In fact, his company quickly recovered and thrived more than ever before. [34:46]
- If you’ve got to put up with something terrible, you might as well have a smile on your face while it’s happening. [35:54]
- We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we feel about it. [39:36]
- Thomas Jefferson
- Marcus Aurelius
- Bill Belichick
- Andy Grove
- Publilius Syrus
- John Glenn
- Tom Wolfe
- Gavin de Becker
- Nassim Taleb
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
- Nick Saban
- James Pollard Espy
- Henry Clay
- Friedrich Nietzsche
- Thomas Edison
- Jack Johnson
- James J. Jeffries
- Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus
- Jack London
The Tim Ferriss Show is one of the most popular podcasts in the world with over 500 million downloads. It has been selected for "Best of Apple Podcasts" three times, it is often the #1 interview podcast across all of Apple Podcasts, and it's been ranked #1 out of 400,000+ podcasts on many occasions. To listen to any of the past episodes for free, check out this page.