I was never drawn to books, let alone sitting still and read. I started reading heavily when I decided a few years back that I wanted to be better, live more and most importantly to expand my mind and open my eyes to the opportunities that I once couldn’t see. The Obstacle is The Way changes my perception of every situation that I was in, good or bad, I always see solutions not obstacle.
Based on the emperor of the Roman Empire, Marcus Aurelius’ statement – “Our actions may be impeded…but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
What life taught me is whether you fear or not, setbacks, disappointments, and problems will come, there is no such thing as free of problems or disappointments life. But remember this that it will never permanent, understand that what hinders us can empower us.
My approach to this post is picking a few points that I utilize and apply daily to every situation in my life which I believe it is useful for you if self-mastery and advancement are on your agenda.
I hope you will find this article inspires you to get the book and add layers to your personal growth.
The Discipline of Perception
Today, having gone through so many disappointments and setbacks in my life, I realize that most of our obstacles are from internal (ourselves) not external.
Though we can’t blame all our failures and unhappiness on social media, we somehow have to hold ourselves accountable as well, because we are in control of our lives, no one else.
What I love so much about The Obstacle Is the Way, is it will make you feel terribly ashamed of missed opportunities and accomplishments you failed to achieve, but it will also give you a proof that nothing is impossible, motivating you to turn your life around.
Overcoming obstacles made up of three critical steps – Perception, Action and the Will.
The Discipline of Perception defines as “a belief or opinion, often held by many people and based on how things seem”, perception is a mischievous ally.
More often than it should, it tricks us into seeing and understanding things not the way they are, but the way our needs, hopes or fears shape them to be.
So when we perceive the obstacle, we rarely see it as passable. Not only does this make us feel powerless and inadequate to deal with whatever comes our way, but it also makes us blind to the opportunity that lays within. That’s why control is a major theme in Holiday’s book, and why you should practice it in all aspects of your life.
In order to turn a seemingly insurmountable obstacle into triumph, you need to be in control of how you experience it. It is the only way of perceiving it as objectively as you can – once you learn to put emotions aside, steady your nerves, and revert to the present moment, you can finally see the problem for what it is, and recognize that the solution is already in you.
Recognize Your Power
“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t be harmed. Don’t feel harmed – and you haven’t been.” – Marcus Aurelius
I’m here to tell you that, no one can take anything from you if you don’t let them. When I was emotionally weak and didn’t know any better, I allow my negative views led the way of my happiness and success.
Though brimming with stoic thoughts, The Obstacle is The Way heavily relies on another philosophical idea – solipsism. It claims that only one’s own mind is sure to exist, and all that belongs to the external world is questionable. Based on subjective idealism, it places our perspective in the very center of everything there ever was, is, or will be.
It reminds us that we are the ones in control: if there’s no real obstacle on our way other than the obstacle we perceive with our mind, then we have all the power in the world. In other words, you are both the creator and the destroyer of your happiness and misfortunes, the tailor of your own destiny.
“Vigilantly guard your mind against erroneous and destructive thought as you would guard your house against burglars and assassins.” – Grenville Kleiser
What I know and observe is that there is no situation that is good or bad, which means that what it all comes down to how we choose to perceive it. And, if you choose to see your obstacles as opportunities, you’re one actionable step away from turning them into triumphs.
What’s brilliant about it is that it is applicable in every life situation, however transformative and challenging it may seem.
As you come to realize that the power or perception is yours, no one can tell you what’s possible and what’s not any longer. If you tell yourself that you can do anything, there’s no obstacle big enough to break your will and slow you down.
“Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind. There’s no other definition of it” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
I recently moved from Finance and Accounting to IT department as a Manager of Process Improvement for one of the largest commercial Real Estate Management Services in North America. I didn’t get offered the role because I’m a good employee but because the way I think and how I approach problems.
I don’t get frustrated but rather I learn how to form my thoughts differently using the available resources to clear out the challenges that are thrown at me every hour.
While the discipline of perception teaches us that the real power is within us, you must understand that in order to be great, you must not surround yourself with monsters of your own mind. It’s what happens every time you allow your frustrations, insecurities, and fears to distort your reality.
For some people, questioning and evaluating other’s opinion is not the problem. Most of us can discern right from wrong in what our family, friends, and peers tell us to do, but it’s making sense of our own thoughts that isn’t at all easy. Especially if your self-esteem is low, disciplining your inner critic might be the most difficult trial you’ll have to go through.
The fact that you feel incompetent or incapable of overcoming the obstacle, it doesn’t mean that you really are. Remember, it’s up to you to choose whether or not the situation is too cumbersome to deal with – as long as you convince yourself that you have it in you to succeed, the confidence you gain along the way will make everything easier, if not effortless.
“He says the best way out is always through And I agree to that, or in so far As I can see no way out but through.” – Robert Frost
I strongly believe that without persistence, I would be here sharing my lessons about this book with you. I would have given up and God only knows where I would end up.
Here what I want you to understand and remember, always is in order for you to overcome obstacles in your life, you must broadcast it first internally (your mind) and externally (through your action) until you win over the battle.
Starting with your perception and continuing on with your action, that’s why learning to control your inner critic is so important – long before you start turning your trials into triumphs, you need to get familiar with your strengths and weaknesses, and separate real obstacles from self-inflicted ones.
If there’s truly something to overcome, don’t be so naïve to assume that you’ll need nothing but your newly earned confidence. No real problem solves itself, and the thing that stands in your way isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. You’ll have to ditch the excuses, gather your strength, and face the music. And, for that, you’ll need a whole lot of persistence.
Besides, all those ground-breaking discoveries that we keep hearing about were once obstacles too; rather than a flick of genius, they demanded strong will, patience, and determination in order to be overcome. It wasn’t epiphany that created the light bulb, but Thomas Edison’s persistence – The Obstacle is The Way uses this example beautifully, showing us the true value of mindful tenacity.
Persistence is so much more than stoic resolve. It exercises endurance but also reminds us that it’s okay to feel discouraged from time to time. What isn’t okay is to give up and quit. We’re only human, after all, and failure has always been written in our stars. The fault isn’t in them, though, but in our own lack of will. Don’t let it thwart your success, and never allow yourself to be stopped by failure.
Build Your Inner Citadel
Self-acceptance and accepting the situation that I was in and who I really was, that was the moment that I knew I’ll be ok. Well, more than ok.
Working in the corporate world for many years and having gone through tough situations both professionally and personally, I can tell you that not everyone accepts their bad start in life because we are entitlement being.
Only if you understand that accepting your situations and the way your life was given is the first-class ticket to your personal freedom. And when you are free, nothing can stop you.
To me failure is nothing less than inevitable – it’s how we deal with loss and defeat that determines the course of our life. Not everyone is born a gladiator, definitely not me. By building your Mind Palaces and Inner Citadels: you will have something to keep you going, and something you can return to in times of struggle.
The Inner Citadel is a place of mindful peace, but also a propeller that gives you the strength to proceed. Think of it as your personal shelter from the storm, the one that doesn’t let you hide and sit idly, but compels you to regroup your thoughts and regain your will. To succeed takes a lot of effort and plenty of trials and errors, and you’ll most certainly need a quiet place to retreat to and pick yourself up again.
It’s in these mindful moments that you can distance yourself from the problem and think of the best solution from a new perspective.
You enter the Citadel defeated but come back from it reborn. To build it is to find whatever it is that helps you unwind and reconnect with the invincible person that you are: be that a yoga class or a walk in the park, the Inner Citadel can be anywhere you decide.
“Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will To strive, to seek to find not to yield.” – Tennyson
Persistence is an action. Perseverance is a matter of will. One is energy and the other is endurance.
If you think of your obstacles as battles to be won, then let your Inner Citadel be the headquarters in which you’ll strategize your moves and practice your persistence. Because, persistence is something you’ll need to get through the clash, whereas perseverance is a trait you’ll have to develop if you intend to win the war. Rather than one-off determination, perseverance is a continual state of mind.
Just like a single battle doesn’t win the war, one overcome obstacle doesn’t get you where you want to go. Winners never settle for less, nor do they stop after the first problem has been solved.
You’ll need to carry on to the end, pursuing your passions and visions despite all odds. The string of obstacles you’ll have to pass is long and wearisome, but perseverance is a triumphant weapon.
It’s what allows you to stay sober-minded and ready for whatever difficulty life throws your way, a steady determination, and stoic endurance that Holiday borrows from Hellenistic philosophy in order to point out that nothing’s truly impossible when we have enough faith in our potentials and enough willpower to prevail over our fears of failure.
Whether you choose to read it or not, The Obstacle is The Way is a much-needed reminder of the old, fearless way of thinking. The perseverance it teaches us about is the same one that ancient men practiced to build our civilization from the ground. Don’t let it stay forgotten since it’s a quality of true visionaries and a trait that opens your life to a full specter of amazing possibilities.
Prepare to Start Again
“Live on in your blessings, your destiny’s been won. But ours calls us on from one ordeal to the next.” – Virgil
Have you heard about the 98% and 2% Mindset? Let’s just say that the 2% mindset are the people who go for their dreams, act in spite of fear, explore new things and living without limit. Well, you can guess what is the 98% mindset looks like and I was in that percentile but not anymore.
Sometimes, the only obstacle standing in your way is you (98% mindset), full of excuses and settling for less. It’s yet another of many impediments that you’ll have to learn to break through and emerge on the other side, resolute and victorious. For, obstacles truly are innumerable, and the only way to keep up the pace is to grow, improve, and reinvent yourself all the time.
Obstacles will never stop coming but knowing how to deal with it and most importantly view it intelligently life will be easier for you.
No obstacle that you fail to overcome is a failure in the greater scheme of things. It’s rather a chance to learn from your mistakes, a new opportunity to alter your perspective – the circle of life never stops, and you’ll need both the experience and the right attitude to face new struggles. Simply put, each time you get burned, you’re growing a little wiser.
Luckily, we were all given the power of mental and spiritual rebirth. If you can’t defy your mortality, you can at least reignite your will – however hard it becomes when the obstacles begin piling up, you have it in you to go back and start anew. Just stay calm and don’t let your emotions get the best of you; the next time around, you’ll be fearless and indestructible.
The Obstacle is The Way
“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.” — Byron Katie
Even though it’s a book for the modern man and all of his existential struggles, The Obstacle Is the Way draws lessons from our collective past.
As such, it helps us rediscover at least some of those universal truths that we forgot somewhere along the way, the same ones we still need in order to silence our doubts, discipline our thoughts, and gather the courage to carry on.
Because, once you do, there’ll be no real obstacles on your way. The only thing that will remain is your prevailing will, the inner strength that will lead you straight to the end of the road.
The life will, at last, be limitless, with all gates unlocked and all possibilities open. It’s when you reach the best possible version of yourself, the one that knows no insecurities and fears, and understands that all we need is perspective, action, and will.