The Obstacle is the Way

(Sometimes a book will come along that changes the way you see things. The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials Into Triumph by Ryan Holiday is one of those books. If you haven’t read it, I highly recommend you do.)


We color our world with the thoughts, beliefs, and stories we tell ourselves. If we view something as bad then it is and vice versa. What we need to do is break down our obstacles into two parts: the event and the story. The event may or may not be in our control. The story, however, we always control.

It’s no news that we will have things obstruct our path but Ryan in The Obstacle is the Way asks a great question, “When we believe in the obstacle more than in the goal, which will inevitably triumph?”

It’s easy to get discouraged by the event but when we focus too much on the present circumstance, instead of looking at ways to use or move around the obstacle, then we focus more on the story we’ve made up than on reaching our goal. The story tells us nothing about the true reality of the situation. How many times have you freaked out about something that later turned out to be not as serious as you initially feared?

The obstacle, if we let it, will help us grow.

But, first, we have to change how we perceive the situation. As Ryan puts it, “… through our perception of events, we are complicit in the creation–as well as the destruction–of every one of our obstacles.” We don’t have to believe the story we tell ourselves. We don’t have to listen to what others tell us.

Perceiving the obstacle without the story helps us come up with solutions we might not have seen otherwise. When we’re able to look objectively, we see the event for what it is and that helps us take the right action to move past it rather than dwelling on the problem or feeling sorry for ourselves. In managing our perception we see that the obstacle is the way to move forward.

The obstacle becomes the way because we no longer perceive it as an obstacle.


This week’s song is “Rise” by Katy Perry:


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