The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage


Author(s): Ryan Holiday

Published: 2014

Report Published: On Launch

QUAKE Magnitude: 9.5 major quake stamp_100x36

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Field Survey

The ability to breathe life and meaning into Stoic texts takes an act of sheer brilliance. Stoicism is a more than two millennia old Hellenistic philosophy that many will appreciate in theory but find it hard to apply in practice. Well that was until Ryan Holiday came along to demonstrate that anyone who thinks philosophy is dead, or at least carries no practical use in the modern world, is mistaken or hasn’t yet stumbled across his work.

This book will reverberate with a lot of twenty to thirty somethings and the nearly retired that have been, or still are, crippled by the pangs of global recession and chronic un- and under- employment. After reading it, where obstacles may have resulted in fear and led to mediocrity and powerlessness, they will now yield strength, perseverance and self-control. These qualities are real musts if we are to get the most out of life and subsequent QUAKE Books.

In short, the way Holiday, a man wise beyond his years, explains stoicism will revolutionise how you think, feel and act and if you know anyone, or if you yourself, has ever suffered from a “victim mentality” then please do yourself (or somebody else) the favour of grabbing a copy. I can write these words with confidence because The Obstacle is the Way was in fact how I learned to embrace and prosper in a challenge, not despite it.


“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”

“What important things are you missing because you chose worry over introspection, alertness or wisdom?”

“We can learn to adjust and come to terms with death – this final and most humbling fact of life – and find relief in the understanding that there is nothing else nearly as hard left.”

Quake Moment

This book coincided with tremendous moments in my life and actually not one but TWO bookquakes, both of which measured almost off the Richter Scale. The first QUAKE happened before I even read The Obstacle is the Way. Ryan Holiday was in an interview where he was discussing the issues of being controlled by external factors and gave the example of wasting a day because you got stuck in an airport. Having literally just wasted a day under a dark cloud because I had in fact got stuck in an airport, the interview struck a chord. A little embarrassed, I asked my fiancée the following question: “If you are sincere with me, how many days do I waste because I get ‘stuck in airports’?” Their answer astounded me. “Sincerely, 30 days a year.” The floor shook as the implications of that settled in.

After our conversation I bought the book. Later that week I was called back to the family home, told to pack my suit, as my grandmother “Nan”, my favourite person in the whole world lay dying. There was nothing I could do. Chaos was all around me, I knew everything was about to change. But Ryan’s book put me in the eye of the storm. So whilst everyone else was emotionally fraught, desperate even to come to terms with what her death might mean, I was a picture of calm.

As the machine was switched off, tears rolled silently down our faces and in them I could “find relief in the understanding that there is nothing nearly as hard left.”

I felt and still feel an immense pain following her passing but I am grateful that I had that book between my hands because it meant that I was and still am able to reflect on the beauty of her life.


What value could I ever place on a book that helped me deal with death? The Obstacle is the Way along with the film Steel Magnolias gave me immense comfort in the face of it and all that I know it has come to mean.

I sincerely hope that the field agents reading this report would invest the time and resources into the book. I strong believe that failure to do so, will result in an opportunity cost far too great to appreciate.

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