In this article, I’ll review The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday. However, before I begin since this is my first book review, I’ll have to start by giving credit to my mother who thought it wise to take me along with her to the library when I was around 8 years or so.
At the time, she was studying for her masters. This little act has helped shape my life when it comes to areas of self-development even though at the time I was reading Barbie stories.
Even before her rigorous studying days/ months, my mother encouraged active reading by making us exchange books and then we’ll recommend books to each other. She and my father also created a mini-library in our house and I think all these fostered a reading culture in me.
I would later grow up and get consumed in my academic books, struggle to find the time to read things outside my syllabus and then delved into audio books which were so exciting at the time. However, it wasn’t long before I realized that I missed reading books in hard copy — had a different feel for me.
I also want to thank my husband who told me to be real to myself and embrace my 90’s attitude of reading books in hard copies. This year, one of my goals was to increase the number of books I read to improve my self-development and actually practice things that will improve my life.
The year is almost over and I’m happy that my intellectual thinking is on another level presently. Personal development, people, is key and that’s why I shared on Instagram that I will begin to share book reviews that affect career and life from time to time.
One of the books I’ve read this year is The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday.
When I first heard about this book, I was like: “Hmm… obstacle, way…” My husband wouldn’t stop raving about how good the book was, I later ordered a copy which arrived in a few days, thanks to Amazon!
At the time, I was exploring what to do next with my career. If I’m being honest, the first few pages were so captivating because I immersed myself with the stories that Ryan Holiday, the author, shared in this book.
The idea of this book is that in many cases, the obstacle itself is almost always the answer you seek. I recall a quote by Marcus Aurelius in the book: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
This book is an inspiring piece with true stories of leaders who made the best out of circumstances in the face of adversity. The Obstacle is the Way reminds you that in the face of any challenges, while others may quit, complain and give up, you shouldn’t, because you have real-life practices to emulate from the book.
In one of the chapters, “Get Moving”, he tells the story of Amelia Earhart and how she wanted a career as a pilot but couldn’t because she was a woman at such a time in history.
She ended up taking a job in social work and later accepted a job where she wouldn’t be allowed to fly the plane, won’t be paid and was the second choice for the role! This was merely a publicity stunt by a group to fund the ‘first’ transatlantic flight by a woman. She saw the bigger picture and looked at this as an opportunity to launch her career as opposed to what many people in a similar situation will do today.
Earhart eventually became the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean and was well recognized for her achievements during her lifetime.
This was just one of the stories that put things in perspective for me. I’ve always believed that small steps towards your goal are important, however, this chapter sank it in again just in the event I was deciding to let the noise of the world drown me.
Ryan did a great job of showing in other chapters of this book how to go about turning your ‘obstacles’ or challenges into an opportunity worth celebrating. I even practiced some of these tips in my present career growth/ plan and noticed changes. Imagine when I eventually apply other tips and practice.
Did I agree with everything?
There was just a chapter I had a different perspective to mainly because just as Ryan Holiday expressed, this book turns you into a philosopher, but it doesn’t stop there: you practice and think differently!
Let me not be a spoiler! Go read it for yourself. When I read, I try to apply it to my own life because I don’t want to read just for the sake of it but to intentionally improve myself.
His book draws your attention to stoicism and being pragmatic in making decisions. So what is stoicism? Stoicism is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by its system of logic and its views on the natural world.
According to its teachings, as social beings, the path to happiness for humans is found in accepting this moment as it presents itself, by not allowing ourselves to be controlled by our desire for pleasure or our fear of pain, by using our minds to understand the world around us and to do our part in nature’s plan, and by working together and treating others fairly and justly.
If you want to make the most out of any challenges you might be going through in your career or life in general (because life can be demanding), this book is a good place to start. The Obstacle is the Way teaches you to use philosophical thinking to be productive and practical.
If you are someone who enjoys reading 21st-century stories in books or more of biography, then keep an open mind. You have to be willing to imagine yourself in some of the stories, especially the historical ones to derive the best from the book.
Let me know what you think about my review in the comment section. Have you read this book or do you plan on reading it soon? You can buy a copy here.
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