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The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage Hardcover – 1 May 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Profile Books (1 May 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1781251487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1781251485
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.4 x 18.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 85,157 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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Lynch on 10 May 2014
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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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Fred on 14 July 2014
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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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful By George Baker on 1 May 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Unfortunately, life doesn't come with an instruction manual.

You’ve had to work out how to live successfully by yourself. You’ve learnt to find your own ways to adapt to the difficulties it presents. You’ve found ways to deal with the warped or ill-informed opinions of others, to get what you want in spite of the difficulties you face and if you’re lucky…

The whole experience has made you a stronger person. However, it can be hard to deal with the unfairness or disadvantage we all experience from time to time.

If you’ve sometimes found yourself wondering “why me?” then it simply means you’re human, it happens to all of us.

It’s very easy to let your obstacles define you. I’ve often wished there was an instruction manual to teach you how to live your life meaningfully and successfully, how to use the experience to make yourself stronger, a better person or simply to get the things you want.

It turns out there is such a book called “The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art Of Turning Adversity Into Advantage” and it is, in my opinion, the guidebook for life I’ve always wanted.

Ryan’s book explains a practical process, broken down into three disciplines, for responding to life’s challenges in a way that will empower you to turn your obstacles into opportunities.

Unlike most books on philosophy, the writing is enthusiastic and clear so even if you’ve never read anything like it before, it should be accessible and engaging.

You won’t find gushing motivational rants, self-indulgent “success stories” or self-help clichés.

Instead, you’ll find practical advice and the honest truth about what it takes to turn your circumstances to your advantage.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Undecumani on 25 May 2014
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Melbo on 25 Jun. 2014
Format: Hardcover
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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