“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.”
Holiday tackles the study of Stoicism in this book, which is the practice of… Enduring the uncontrollable things that happen in life without fighting against them (I used the dictionary to paraphrase that). Obstacle is all about his practice: being fluid and adaptable to whatever takes place.
Holiday uses the writings of Marcus Aurelius as his guide, as well as examples from George Washington, John McCain, Ulysses S. Grant, Margaret Thacher, Steve Jobs and Barack Obama, among many others.
One thing about Ryan Holiday, as you would note from reading his second book, is that he knows how to hack attention and get an audience for whatever he’s pushing. I follow Ryan on Twitter and watched him promote his ass off — countless guest blog posts and many on his own site — to move 30,000 copies of Obstacle in 6 weeks. An impressive feat, no matter how it got done. At about 450 pages when iPhone-formatted, Obstacle is a short read that is worth the philosophical exercise for your mind and behaviors.