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The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage [Hardcover]

Ryan Holiday
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
RRP: 10.99
Price: 8.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 May 2014

We give up too easily. With a simple change of attitude, what seem like insurmountable obstacles become once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. Ryan Holiday, who dropped out of college at nineteen to serve as an apprentice to bestselling 'modern Machiavelli' Robert Greene and is now a media consultant for billion-dollar brands, draws on the philosophy of the Stoics to guide you in every situation, showing that what blocks our path actually opens one that is new and better.

If the competition threatens you, it's time to be fearless, to display your courage. An impossible deadline becomes a chance to show how dedicated you are. And as Ryan discovered as Director of Marketing for American Apparel, if your brand is generating controversy - it's also potentially generating publicity.

The Stoic philosophy - that what is in the way, is the way - can be applied to any problem: it's a formula invented more than 2,000 years ago, whose effectiveness has been proven in battles and board rooms ever since. From Barack Obama's ability to overcome obstacles in his election races, to the design of the iPhone, the stoic philosophy has helped its users become world-beaters.

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (1 May 2014)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1781251487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781251485
  • Product Dimensions: 12.5 x 17.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,672 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A book for the bedside of every future - and current - leader in the world. (Robert Greene, author of The 48 Laws of Power and Mastery)

Ryan Holiday is part Machiavelli, part Ogilvy ... this whiz kid is the secret weapon you've never heard of. (Tim Ferriss The 4-Hour Work Week)

The Obstacle is the Way decants in concentrated form the timeless techniques for self-mastery as employed to world-conquering effect by philosophers and men of action from Alexander the Great to Marcus Aurelius to Steve Jobs. Follow these precepts and you will revolutionize your life. As Mr Holiday writes, "It's simple, it's just not easy." Read this book! (Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of 'The War of Art and Gates of Fire')

An absolute must-read. A kind of user's manual for life, you will turn to it time and time again and learn to tear through any obstacle and resolve any conflict. (Jimmy Soni, managing editor of Huffington Post, author of Rome's Last Citizen)

Praise for Trust Me, I'm Lying:

'A playbook for the dark arts of exploiting the media

(Robert Greene The 48 Laws of Power)

An astonishing, disturbing book (Financial Times)

Book Description

In business and marketing, Ryan Holiday has done it all, seen it all, and now he's here to show you ... the way.

A modern guru who shows the way to turn problems into opportunities.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Philosophy is a discipline often viewed by people (myself included) as academic, stilted, and irrelevant to real life. But stoicism, the central theme of this book, is not that sort of philosophy.

Ryan has written a book that cuts through all of that and goes straight to the heart of everyday problems. This is not your average business or self-help book: this is a manual to turn to in troubling times. It's infinitely practical and applicable in your life now, tomorrow, and for the next 50 years.

The title The Obstacle Is The Way refers to a quote by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, who in the second century AD wrote "The impediment to action advances action. What's in the way becomes the way." A perfect metaphor for this is a raging fire: whatever is put in its way becomes fuel for the fire. This book shows you how to do that.

The book is split into 3 sections:

- perception
- action
- will

Each section has 8-12 short chapters filled with historical stories from Ulysses S. Grant to Marcus Aurelius, from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart. Ryan has previously been a researcher on Robert Greene's books, and it shows, both in the depth and breadth of his research for this book - the bibliography alone is probably as useful as the book itself.

Ryan is also clearly influenced by both Robert Greene and Marcus Aurelius in terms of his writing style for this book - it is simple, clear, direct and practical. I found myself highlighting and marking numerous passages which I will turn to again and again in the future.

Some choice quotes from the book:

"what matters most is not what these obstacles are but how we see them, how we react to them, and whether we keep our composure...
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Embrace obstacles so that the obstacle becomes the Way.
Using brilliant anecdotes, Ryan describes a 3 steps approach to turn obstacle into advantages.

The book is smooth, easy to read yet powerful and there are a lot of concepts to absorb and take away: the kind of book that you keep ''reading'' in your mind even after you've actually finished it.
As a good companion to the book I'd suggest Ryan's blog, full of lived examples of 21st century stoicism.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting little book 25 Jun 2014
By Melbo
Really good book to read for anyone 'stuck' with what seems to be a massive obstacle in the way. Very well written, straight to the point and very well thought out. Recommended.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great insights and a new perspective on things 22 Jun 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Found the writing to be engaging and also informative. It really does a great job (for me at least) of changing the way you perceive issues in your life and that alone I've found helpful. Recommended read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Ideas Packaged Without Much Inspiration. 2 Aug 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A loosely tied collection of quotes from mostly stoic philosophers without much fleshing out or bringing to life of the subjects involved. Other than bundling up a group of great quotes, Ryan Holiday adds very little of value while continually beating the same drum on the same thematic idea over and over until what , handled in a different way, might have served as spiritual lever just comes out as slightly oppressive marketing flavoured conclusions. Hopefully, one of this book's redeeming qualities will be to inspire the reader to go search out the basic foundation material and to read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By Fred
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Wow -- what a cool introduction and modern interpretation of Stoic Philosophy. Ryan does great job of connecting the philosophy with salient examples from history, making the book a great learning tool.

Stoicism is about squaring with reality head on, free of delusion, be that our expectations of what should happen or the denial of situations we find ourselves in. This makes the stoic perspective immensely powerful because when we've fully embraced reality we can act from a position of power.

It comes as no surprise then, that the stoic approach to life, as espoused in Ryan's book, is vilified by fans of the "law of attraction" as being negative and uninspiring. The Obstacle is the Way shows how the stoic way of life is a rich and life affirming approach and the book is a powerful antidote to the illusions and delusions of most popular self help. Cleanse yourself of wishful thinking, read the book and begin down the path of reclaiming/enhancing your personal power.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Long live Leonides! 26 Jun 2014
This is a practical and not a philosophical /academic treatise. It's for people who want to take action. I like the style and it encourages you to take a certain pro-active stance to life rather and rather than react to 'problems' to transmute their energy to your advantage. Bring on the Persian hordes! :)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read 17 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This book has brought a great deal of clarity to my own life and I am sure I will revisit it. I also own the audio book and Ryan Holiday has a great voice to listen to. If you are experiencing some challenges in your own life then I definitely think this book will help you. Good luck!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars nothing about it I disliked
Not an ounce of perching here if you ask me. To the point, and makes you question yourself - which I think is ver important. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Mick
4.0 out of 5 stars Sense in a World of Ambiguity.
Collection of grounding wisdom, unchanging through time. thought provoking and written in an accsessible style. Philosophy for the soul.
Published 1 month ago by Sue
5.0 out of 5 stars Stoicism Strikes Back!
Fantastic nuggets of wisdom and serious food for thought. This book is a must for anyone seeking to flesh out the ancient ideas of the Stoics. Practical. Concise. Enlightening.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
Great read and some really thought provoking material. Really enjoyed this book and would recommend it.
Published 1 month ago by jb007
5.0 out of 5 stars Not many books change the way I think about my life these days. This...
One of the best books I have read in a long time (and I read a lot of books) It's easy to read and although it seems a little repetitive, it actually just layers up the core... Read more
Published 1 month ago by D. Walton
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Good read and good perspective
Published 1 month ago by david gibson
5.0 out of 5 stars He loved it a lot when he read it
Bought it as a gift for a friend. He loved it a lot when he read it.
Published 1 month ago by Muhammad Rehan Usmani
5.0 out of 5 stars When problems overtake you this is the book.
This is a great book that makes you think and laugh and gives you ideas for action in a practical way.
Published 2 months ago by vanillalatte
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Bought several copies for presenting other loved
Bought several copies for presenting other loved ones
Published 2 months ago by H S COONAR
3.0 out of 5 stars Good but...
The central philosophy of this book is very interesting & is like a small 'lightbulb moment'. But... Read more
Published 2 months ago by peter barrett
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