Notes & Quotes: The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday

The following are my favorite quotes from Ryan Holiday's The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph.
  1. "Bad companies are destroyed by crisis.  Good companies survive them.  Great companies are improved by them." Andy Grove
  2. "The things which hurt instruct." Benjamin Franklin
  3. To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practiced, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives.
  4. Nothing makes us feel this way; we choose to give in to such feelings.
  5. Our brains evolved for an environment very different from the one we currently inhabit.  As a result, we carry all kinds of biological baggage.
  6. There are a few things to keep in mind when faced with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.  We must try:
    1. to be objective
    2. to control emotions and keep an even keel
    3. to choose to see the good in a situation
    4. to steady our nerves
    5. to ignore what disturbs or limits others
    6. to place things in perspective
    7. to revert to the present moment
    8. to focus on what can be controlled
  7. They can throw us in jail, label us, deprive us of our possessions, but they'll never control our thoughts, our beliefs, our reactions.
  8. Nothing we'll experience is likely without potential benefit.
  9. There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception.  There is but the event itself and story we tell ourselves about what it means.
  10. Uncertainty and fear are relieved by authority.  Training is authority.
  11. Subconsciously, we should be constantly asking ourselves this question: Do I need to freak out about this?
  12. "The perceiving eye is weak, the observing eye is strong." Miyamoto Musashi
  13. Epictetus told his students, when they'd quote some great thinker, to picture themselves observing the person having sex.  It's funny, you should try it the next time someone intimidates you or makes you feel insecure.  See them in your mind, grunting, groaning, and awkward in their private life -- just like the rest of us.
  14. The right and the wrong perspective is everything.  How we interpret the events in our lives, our perspective, is the framework for our forthcoming response -- whether there even will be one or whether we'll just lie there and take it.
  15. Focusing exclusively on what is in our power magnifies and enhances our power.  But every ounce of energy directed at things we can't actually influence is wasted -- self-indulgent and self-destructive.
  16. We get ourselves so worked up and intimidated because of the overthinking, that if we'd just gotten to work we'd probably be done already.
  17. Focus on the moment, not the monsters that may or may not be up ahead.
  18. People with an entrepreneurial spirit are like animals, blessed to have no time and ability to think about the ways things should be, or how they'd prefer them to be.
  19. This moment is not your life, it's just a moment in your life.
  20. You had a hypothesis and it turned out to be wrong.  Why should that upset you?  It wouldn't piss off a scientist, it would help him.
  21. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth.  The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity.
  22. Action is the solution and the cure to our predicaments.
  23. There's an explosion, metaphoric or otherwise.  Are you the guy running toward it?  Or running away from it?  Or worse, are you paralyzed and do nothing?
  24. It feels better to ignore or pretend.  But you deep down that that isn't going to truly make it any better.  You've got to act.  And you've got to start now.
  25. "We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us.  My choice is to wear out." Theodore Roosevelt
  26. While you're sleeping, traveling, attending meetings, or messing around online, the same thing is happening to you.  You're going soft.
  27. Genius is often just persistence in disguise.
  28. Stop looking for an epiphany, and start looking for weak points.  Stop looking for angels, and start looking for angles.  There are options.  Settle in for the long haul and then try each and every possibility, and you'll get there.
  29. In a world where we increasingly work for ourselves, are responsible for ourselves, it makes sense to view ourselves like a start-up -- a start-up of one.
  30. You've got to do something very difficult.  Don't focus on that.  Instead break it down into pieces.  Simply do what you need to do right now.  And do it well.  And then move on to the next thing.
  31. Don't think about the end -- think about surviving.  Making it from meal to meal, break to break, checkpoint to checkpoint, paycheck to paycheck, one day at a time.
  32. We are A-to-Z thinkers, fretting about A, obsessing over Z, yet forgetting all about B through Y.
  33. The process is doing the right things, right now.  Not worrying about what might happen later, or the results, or the whole picture.
  34. "Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble." Sir Henry Royce
  35. You're so busy thinking about the future, you don't take any pride in the tasks you're given right now.  You just phone it all in, cash your paycheck, and dream of some higher station in life.  Or you think, This is just a job, it isn't who I am, it doesn't matter.  Foolishness.
  36. When action is our priority, vanity falls away.
  37. Each project matters, and the only degrading part is giving less than one is capable of giving.
  38. To whatever we face, our job is to respond with:
    1. hard work
    2. honesty
    3. helping others as best we can
  39. Part of the reason why a certain skill often seems so effortless for great masters is not just because they've mastered the process -- they really are doing less than the rest of us who don't know any better.  They choose to exert only calculated force where it will be effective, rather than straining and struggling with pointless attrition tactics.
  40. We wrongly assume that moving forward is the only way to progress, the only way we can win.  Sometimes, staying put, going sideways, or moving backward is actually the best way to eliminate what blocks or impedes your path.
  41. In every situation, that which blocks our path actually presents a new path with a new part of us.
  42. Prepare, at the end of the day, for none of it to work.
  43. Acknowledge the pain but trod onward in your task.
  44. They prepare themselves for the hard road.  Do they hope they never have to walk it?  Sure.  But they are prepared for it in any case.
  45. The Stoics called the Inner Citadel, that fortress inside of us that no external adversity can ever break down.  An important caveat is that we are not born with such a structure; it must be built and actively reinforced.
  46. "The Fates guide the person who accepts them and hinder the person who resists them." Cleanthes
  47. After you've distinguished between the things that are up to you and the things that aren't, and the break comes down to something you don't've got only one option: acceptance.
  48. Unity over Self.  We're in this together.
  49. It doesn't matter who you are or how many things you have left to be done, somewhere there is someone who would kill you for a thousand dollars or for a vile of crack or for getting in their way.
  50. The more you accomplish, the more things will stand in your way.
  51. Passing one obstacle simply says you're worthy of more.  The world seems to keep throwing them at you once it knows you can take it.  Which is good, because we get better with every attempt.
  52. First, see clearly.  Next, act correctly.  Finally, endure and accept the world as it is.
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