#35 - The Obstacle is the Way - My notes of the book from Ryan Holiday

Irene's choice of music this week


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  Dom Donnelly feature by Anjunadeep 


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Obstacles & Life

Last year was filled with some obstacles. It felt like I got thrown stones in my way and problems started to arise. 

I bet every one of you can relate to times like that. At some point in our lives we are confronted with some obstacles, some seem bigger than other ones. How do you deal with obstacles? Do you get demotivated and anxious? Does fear take over your mind and you think “Oh my god! Why does it have to happen to me? Why? This is unfair?” We can’t always understand the reason for it.


It is in human nature that we get scared if our plans don’t work out as we wish for or if unfair things happen to us. 


As I learned my lessons over the last years, I want to share with you some of my personal approach towards obstacles. Actually, my friend Jillian K. gave me the advice to listen to the audio book “The Obstacle is the Way” from Ryan Holiday. I listened to it in the bus or in the train, or just at home comfortable on the coach, when I was trying to figure out what’s happening to me at the moment. I usually like to take notes, so as well this time I took notes during listening to this great audio book. I share them with you, because you might find some of my notes helpful. If not, you might just expand your horizon.


Without further ado, please enjoy my notes from Ryan Holiday “The Obstacle is the Way”:


The Obstacle is the Way - Part 1

The introduction is made with the simple word ATTITUDE. It all comes down on how you see the obstacle. Do you see it with creativity? Are you willing to keep the right attitude to overcome the obstacle regardless how hard or big it might seem? Are you willing to test new things?


If you got yourself the right mindset & attitude towards your obstacle, then you are ready to proceed to step #1.


#1: The Discipline of Perception


In this chapter it comes down to our source of strength and learning to limit our passion and to resist our impulse. All what is left afterwards is the truth and that we see the things as they are. Keeping the head out of the sand and not losing it is the goal. We need self-discipline, we have to stay calm and to think still logical. Learning how to focus on what things really are and to learn how to filter our feelings and our reactions. Trying to stay objective regardless how big the obstacle might seem.


In this process we need as well to recognize our power: it’s our decision how we react when an obstacle is arising. Steadying our nerves and keeping a cool head is a great advantage. When we aim high, stress comes close to us. 



Controlling our emotions:

It's an important move not to panic and to control our emotions – at the same time we increase our leverage of stress. Affirmations like “I am in control of my feelings and emotions” help to calm down a wave of anxiety. “I am not dying form that” and we go back to work. We should ask ourselves “Do I really need to freak out for this?” The answer can be “No, I practiced for this situation and I can control it.” 


Practicing objectivity - The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday
Practicing objectivity - The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday


Practicing objectivity: 

Let’s analyze a common sentence: “This happened and it’s bad!”.

  • The first part “This happened” is objective and we have an observing eye (we are strong). 
  • The second part “and it’s bad!” is subjective (we are week).

A mental training helps to see things more objectively. If we remove the “I” from the topic, it’s like giving an advice to a good friend. We should give ourselves clarity instead of sympathy.


Altering our perspective: 

When we break something hard and big apart and we look at it from a different angle, the obstacle looses the power to us. We choose how we look at the obstacle. It's our choice to put an "I" in front of the problem. Opportunities are like busses, there is always another one coming around. 

Let's analyse:

  • The perspective -  is xxx.
  • Context – framing. 


Is the obstacle up to us? 

Asking us this question helps us to see wheatear if there is a chance that we can do it or not. If there is a slight chance or opportunity, then we can do it. Doing everything until there is nothing left to do. Giving 100 % of our energy. We focus on what we can change. Things we cannot change, we should accept and leave them. To argue or to complain about obstacles isn’t going to help us. It is actually waisted time and energy, if we focus on things we cannot change.  


Living in the present moment: 

Overthinking things take time and energy instead of just doing them. Focusing on the moment, not on the “monster” that lays ahead of us and which isn’t even sure it will happen. Catching our mind helps to focus what happens at the moment.


Thinking differently:

For instant trying to do big things. Believing more in the goals instead of the obstacle itself. 

Not listening to other people and what the might say. We complain about impossible things like deadlines. Don’t be afraid, don’t give up. Do not fear, instead do it and try hard.


Finding the opportunity: 

It’s like a mental flip when we start to see the opportunity and not the obstacle. There is good in everything. Experimenting with new things lead us to greater abilities and a new level of functions as well. “What doesn’t kill us, makes us (just) stronger.”

The Obstacle is the Way - Part 2


Next time I will share with you my notes about STEP #2 ACTION. I will talk about removing the obstacle step by step and with directed action - words like persistence, flexibility, creativity, deliberation, boldness and persistence will appear. 


 I wish you all a great summer Sunday.

See the obstacle as an opportunity!



Till next Sunday




Irene Huber

Quote of the Week by Ryan Holiday

Quote by Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Quote by Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way

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