"The Obstacle is the Way" book notes

Published at 2023-05-06T17:23:16+03:00

These are my personal takeaways after reading "The Obstacle Is the Way" by Ryan Holiday. This is mainly for my own use, but you might find it helpful too.

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"The obstacle is the way" is a powerful statement that encapsulates the wisdom of turning challenges into opportunities for growth and success. We will explore using obstacles as fuel, transforming weaknesses into strengths, and adopting a mindset that allows us to be creative and persistent in the face of adversity.

Reframe your perspective

The obstacle in your path can become your path to success. Instead of being paralyzed by challenges, see them as opportunities to learn and grow. Remember, the things that hurt us often instruct us.

We spend a lot of time trying to get things perfect and look at the rules, but what matters is that it works; it doesn't need to be after the book. Focus on results rather than on beautiful methods. In Jujitsu, it does matter that you bring your opponent down, but not how. There are many ways from point A to point B; it doesn't need to be a straight line. So many try to find the best solution but need to catch up on what is in Infront of them. Think progress and not perfection.

Don't always try to use the front door; a backdoor could open. It's nonsense. Don't fight the judo master with judo. Non-action can be action, exposing the weaknesses of others.

Embrace rationality

It is a superpower to see things rationally when others are fearful. Focus on the reality of the situation without letting emotions, such as anger, cloud your judgment. This ability will enable you to make better decisions in adversity. Ability to see things what they really are. E.g. wine is old fermented grapes, or other people behaving like animals during a fight. Show the middle finger if someone persists on the stupid rules occasionally.

Control your response

You can choose how you respond to obstacles. Focus on what you can control, and don't let yourself feel harmed by external circumstances. Remember, you decide how things affect you; nobody else does. Choose to feel good in response to any situation. Embrace the challenges and obstacles that come your way, as they are opportunities for growth and learning.

Practice emotional and physical resilience

Martial artists know the importance of developing physical and emotional strength. Cultivate the art of not panicking; it will help you avoid making mistakes during high-pressure situations.

Focus on what you can control. Don't choose to feel harmed, and then you won't be harmed. I decide things that affect me; nobody else does. E.g., in prison, your mind stays your own. Don't ignore fear but explain it away, have a different view.

Persistence and patience

Practice persistence and patience in your pursuits. Focus on the process rather than the prize and take one step at a time. Remember, the journey is about finishing tasks, projects, or workouts to the best of your ability. Never be in a hurry and never be desperate. There is no reason to be rushed; there are all in the long haul. Follow the process and not the price. Take it one step at a time. The process is about finishing (workout, task, project, etc.).

Embrace failure

Failure is a natural part of life and can make us stronger. Treat defeat as a stepping stone to success and education. What is defeat? The first step to education. Failure makes you stronger. If we do our best, we can be proud of it, regardless of the result. Do your job, but do it right. Only an asshole thinks he is too good at the things he does. Also, asking for forgiveness is easier than asking for permission.

Be adaptable

There are many ways to achieve your goals; sometimes, unconventional methods are necessary. Feel free to break the rules or go off the beaten path if it will lead to better results. Transform weaknesses into strengths. We have a choice of how to respond to things. It's not about being positive but to be creative. Aim high, but stuff will happen; E.g., surprises will always happen.

Embrace non-action

We constantly push to the next thing. Sometimes the best course of action is standing still or even going backwards. Obstacles might resolve by themselves. Or going sideways. Sometimes, the best action is to stand still, go sideways, or even go backwards. Obstacles may resolve themselves or present new opportunities if you're patient and observant. People always want your input before you have all the facts. They want you to play after their rules. The question is, do you let them? The English call it the cool head. Being in control of Stress; requires practice. Appear, the absence of fear (Greek). When all others do it one way, it does not mean it is the correct or best practice.

Leverage crisis

In times of crisis, seize the chance to do things never done before. Great people use negative situations to their advantage and become the most effective in challenging circumstances.

The art of not panicking; otherwise, you will make mistakes. When overs are shocked, you know which way to take due to your thinking of the problem at Hand. A crisis gives you a chance to do things which never done before. Ordinary people shy from negative situations; great people use these for their benefit and are the most effective. The obstacle is not just turned upside down but used as a catapult.

Be prepared for nothing to work. Problems are an opportunity to do your best, not to do miracles. Always manage your expectations. It will suck, but it will be ok. Be prepared to begin from the beginning. Be cheerful and eagerly work on the next obstacle. Each time you become better. Life is not a sprint but a marathon. After each obstacle lies another obstacle, there won't be anything without obstacles. Passing one means you are ready for the next.

Build your inner citadel

Develop your inner strength during good times so you can rely on it in bad times. Always prepare for adversity and face it with calmness and resilience. Be humble enough that things which happen will happen. Build your inner citadel. In good times strengthen it. In bad times rely on it.

We should always prepare for things to get tough. Your house burns down: no worries, we eliminated much rubbish. Imagine what can go wrong before things go wrong. We are prepared for adversity; it's other people who aren't. Phil Jackson's hip problem example. To receive unexpected benefits, you must first accept the unexpected obstacles. Meditate on death. It's a universal obstacle. Use it as a reminder to do your best.

Love everything that happens

Turn an obstacle the other way around for your benefit. Use it at fuel. It's simple but challenging. Most are paralyzed instead. The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Obstacles are neither good nor bad. The things which hurt, instruct.

Should I hate people who hate me? That's their problem and not mine. Be always calm and relaxed during the fight. The story of the battle is the story of the smile. Cheerfulness in all situations, especially the bad ones. Love for everything that happens; if it happens, it was meant to happen. We can choose how we react to things, so why not choose to feel good? I love everything that happens. You must never lower yourself to the person you don't like.


Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Each obstacle we overcome prepares us for the next one. Remember, the obstacle is not just a barrier to be turned upside down; it can also be used as a catapult to propel us forward. By embracing challenges and using them as opportunities for growth, we become stronger, more adaptable, and, ultimately, more successful.

E-Mail your comments to paul@nospam.buetow.org :-)

Other book notes of mine are:

2023-03-16 "The Pragmatic Programmer" book notes
2023-04-01 "Never split the difference" book notes
2023-05-06 "The Obstacle is the Way" book notes (You are currently reading this)
2023-07-17 "Software Developmers Career Guide and Soft Skills" book notes
2023-11-11 "Mind Management" book notes
2024-05-01 "Slow Productivity" book notes

More books and other resources I found useful.
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