The Obstacle is the Way

To be courageous means to live with heart. Weak souls live in their heads and create security by thinking they dictate certainty in a world that is uncertain. People that live courageously travel into the unknown and find new meaning, discover ways to help others and create approaches on how to manage life’s dilemmas. Within the unknown there are always obstacles – that is why it requires courage.

Doing anything that creates new and unique value will always supply you with a pathway of obstacles. Ironically, the obstacles that seem to be in the way of your path actually define the path. As we focus on courage this month (each month we choose a subject to base our content, events and learning on), we have identified an excellent supplementary read: Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way. This book is book is based on “Stoicism,” which states that Events (i.e., obstacles) happen in the world that we don’t control, yet we do control our Response, which in turn determines the Outcome. Otherwise stated, E + R = O. Don’t let the stoicism be an obstacle for pursing this quick read — it’s digestible, understandable and, most importantly to us, applicable.

Here are a few things we took away from The Obstacle is the Way:

Act. What action are we going to take after reading this book? 

  • Have awareness for what is real. When facing an obstacle, perceive what is actually going on by: being objective, staying even keeled, being present, focusing on what can be controlled and more (see page 18).

“Choose not to be harmed – and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed – you haven’t been.”

              Marcius Aurelius

  • Choice. Recognize your power to choose your Response (i.e., action you will take) to each obstacle. You get to frame what is happening to you by choosing your emotions, feelings, judgements, attitude, decisions and determination (see page 43). We are the stories we tell ourselves.

Learn. What are the key concepts from the book that will help us create the future we desire?

Living a meaningful life will cause you to face many obstacles on your path to success. We must love our fate, Amor Fati (see page 150), and use it for impact.

Always be connected to your desire, as it generates the will (internal power) to overcome obstacles. Then:

  • Learn to see clearly (Perceive),
  • Act with courageous focus (Take Action), and
  • Finally, endure and accept the world as it objectively is.

Build. Based on the learnings, what will we build?

Objectively accepting the world as it is does not mean that we have to be complacent about what the world could be.

We will build the following expectation into our Desire Competency:

“Our leadership quest to have impact is a never-ending courageous practice of dealing with obstacles and we must honorably remember: The obstacle is the way!”

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