The lowdown: The Obstacle Is The Way brings wisdom from historical figures and applies them to the modern-day business owner.
Sit down, this news may rock you.
You’re not the only person who has problems.
Now, sarcastic tone aside, I don’t mean that in a negative way.
Leaders and entrepreneurs have faced a range of setbacks since the dawn of time. Whether it being Alexander The Great who had to tame the previously ‘untameable’ horse, Bucephalus, or Walt Disney, who started a cartoon production company eleven months short of the stock market crash of 1929.
However, no matter the individual or the challenge at hand, it’s how you overcome these obstacles that put you on the path to success.
In The Obstacle Is The Way, Ryan Holiday discusses the most effective ways to tackle these little obstacles in our business – or life – and push through to the other side stronger, and ready for the next challenge.
The three main lessons from The Obstacle Is The Way are:
- That you should look at obstacles objectively
- Trust the process
- Perseverance is vital to overcoming obstacles
Lesson One: That you should look at obstacles objectively
Without a doubt, the key lesson from this book is to look at your challenges objectively.
Have you ever listened to a friend tell you about a problem they’re facing and it doesn’t really seem like that big of a deal?
That friend of yours isn’t being over dramatic (well, they kinda are). Your friend just hasn’t detached themselves from the situation at hand.
When facing a challenge in your business or in your personal life, you have to remove yourself from your personal (and supremely objective) viewpoint.
How can you expect to make a rational decision when you’re not thinking rationally?
To detach yourself from the situation, imagine that that same issue was happening to a friend or a stranger. How would you suggest the person act?
Another way to remove yourself from the situation is to prepare for every outcome. Being ready for anything will ensure that you don’t react in an emotional way when you need to act rationally.
Lesson Two: Trust the process
As much as I would love to talk about the Philadelphia 76ers and ‘the process’ in this section, I won’t.
When setting out to achieve your goals in business, keep focused on the present moment as a part of a larger process.
By focusing on your process one moment at a time, you can easily deal with setbacks and increase your chances of long-term success.
You need to be focused on the present challenge, and not the large goal.
It is kinda like every athlete who gives the cliche post-game press conference answer, saying that they’re taking it “one game at a time” or “one play at a time”.
The reason it is a cliche answer is that it’s true! Professional sports coaches instill in their players that to reach their long-term goal (for example, a championship), they have to break that goal down into smaller moments like a particular game, or a particular play in an individual game.
It would be crazy for a soccer player to miss a pass in week three of a season and say to themselves “well, now we’re doomed. We can’t win the championship now”. It’d be madness.
That is why the best sports team can overcome obstacles like losing games and players getting injured.
You have to have the same thought process in your business.
You can only focus fully on the present moment. So make sure you give this moment your all and roll with the punches, rather than assuming the world will end.
Lesson Three: Perseverance is vital to overcoming obstacles
By being aware of what you can change (internal obstacles) and what you cannot change (external obstacles), you can develop a sense of perseverance; This is because, while you cannot control external obstacles, you can control how you react to them.
The mindset of knowing what you can change makes sure that you focus on the important things and stop worrying about all the other junk that you have no control over.
In fact, many times our internal obstacles are direct results of poorly handling external obstacles.
Once you know what you actually have control over, it is a lot easier to be persistent in overcoming those challenges.
In 1878 Thomas Edison tried over 6,000 different materials looking for the right filament for the first incandescent light bulb. He eventually struck gold (or saw the light?…. sorry) on a piece of bamboo.
Now, Edison wasn’t the only inventor looking to discover the incandescent bulb, but he was the only one to do such thorough research. Edison did this by focusing on what he could control (his experiments), and not what his competitors were doing.
If he was too busy looking over his shoulder at his competition, he would not have been as successful as he was.
So, in your business, find out what you can control and focus on that. Then, make sure you’re persistent in your efforts.
My Personal Takeaway
This book is a great reminder to focus on the process and take it “game by game”, knowing that there is a long-play but acting to impact the moment is something that I often find myself moving from.
This book was a great way to get back on track.
Put it into action
Today, make a list of all the challenges that you face in your business. Seriously, I want you to do a massive brain dump.
From there, I want you to look through every one and see if you can impact that obstacle.
How can you make an immediate impact on these obstacles and not sweat over the stuff you have no control over?
You should consider buying this book if…
This book is great for any business owner as we all face some hardships along the way. However, the real value here is for anybody working at starting a startup.
I would also read this if I were a part-time business owner who is starting out in entrepreneurship.
🤙 Your Next Step… 🤙
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