"The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way." (Marcus Aurelius)
We are stuck, stymied, frustrated. But it needn't be this way. There is a formula for success that's been followed by the icons of history - from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs - a formula that let them turn obstacles into opportunities. Faced with impossible situations, they found the astounding triumphs we all seek.
These men and women were not exceptionally brilliant, lucky, or gifted. Their success came from timeless philosophical principles laid down by a Roman emperor who struggled to articulate a method for excellence in any and all situations.
This book reveals that formula for the first time - and shows us how we can turn our own adversity into advantage.
©2014 Ryan Holiday (P)2014 Tim Ferriss
This is an amazing book that sums up a lot of Stoicism with relatable stories and useful information. It's very akin to Robert Greene's books which makes sense since Ryan interned for him for a time. All of the stories are fantastic and the tips are all actionable and usable in everyday life while being entertaining to boot.
I generally hate author reads and this is not great but also not too bad. I listened at 1.25x which tightens up the performance without losing too much in the way of inflections.
A very annoying part of this audiobook though is that an hour and a half is an episode of the Tim Ferriss podcast that you can get on iTunes. That makes the book come in at roughly 4.5 hours if you don't want to listen to or have already heard that interview. I just wish that was in the description of the book.
The author, Ryan Holiday, surmises that many people give up too easy when faced with obstacles. With the emergence of technology and other advancements we have become soft and lazy. Many of the things we use to make our lives better have made us weak. We have lost our way and a lot of us are unable to generate fortitude to achieve our goals. According to Holiday,. "Great times are great softeners. Abundance can be its own obstacle." We have become easily stopped in the face of conflict and are becoming more unhappy.
Holiday puts forth an approach for a generation that has too much and is stuck. It's more of an approach that gives the reader a new perspective for thriving amid chaos and dealing with everyday challenges. Holiday does not propose a recipe, a prescription or list of things to do. It's much more than that. It's more of an inquiry. Holiday invites the reader to reflect on the obstacles that are holding us back, making us unhappy and unfulfilled as humans. Holiday challenges us to reflect on how we discern our current set of problems. As we do so, we are able to understand the truth of our situation and separate out our our false preconceptions. As this occurs, we are able to see our obstacles with new eyes. We are able to change our relationship to our challenges and relate to them powerfully and viewing them as opportunities.
Throughout the text the Holiday does a great job of sharing the collective wisdom of some of our greatest thinkers. It is not a treatise on their work. As Holiday introduces a distinction of a legendary philosopher, he also cites a real life case study of an individual who transformed their situation. Who changed their relationship to their situation and transformed it. He uses incidents of current day people as well as historical figures.
I also purchased the hard copy of this book. It is on my desk and will serve as reference book. I also plan to give it as a holiday gift to my family, friends and co-workers.
i like the short chapters, makes it easy to listen to a short bit on your way to work. Plus, i could never listen for long (see below)
Here is an idea: if you have a raging sinus infection, or just a clogged nose that will not allow you to speak normally, and you are supposed to narrate a book that day, CALL IN SICK! Don't make your poor listener suffer through your disgusting snotty nose - all I wanted to do was give this guy a tissue. Nasty!
I love AUDIBLE! I never get mad at traffic jams and can listen to many different books, despite of my short time.
Some minutes within the story I thought I was reading a Robert Greene's book, because there were many great characters from the past, with the same paced rhythm. In the end Ryan Holiday explains that Robert Greene is his mentor and it all made sense.
Overall, it is a good book. I don't think it is practical one, but the author says it is.
I didn't give it a five star because the last hour and a half it is a podcast between the author and Tim Ferris, the author of 4 hour workweek.
I am eager to listen to Ryan Holiday next book.
I prefer audio versions of the books for the most part, because I love listening to them in the Jeep and using the time to learn. However, the material in this book is so good, I had to go out and get the print version, as well--because I found myself constantly saying, "Ooh, that's a great thought...I need to write that down," while I was driving!
Seneca's Letters from a Stoic...Stoic philosophy, pretty straight forward.
Marcus Aurelius' Meditations...ditto.
James Altucher Choose Yourself...Both give great, concrete ways to make your life better by changing your thinking.
I love Ryan, and this book is fantastic--but I didn't give five stars because the reading was a bit dry. I really enjoy the author's reading their own works, but more inflection, varied timing and such would be appreciated. Still, I loved it.
Wow. Where do I begin? I'll start with one of the principles at the end--looking death in its face and realizing that we are mortal, and using that knowledge to light a fire under us to do something great in this life.
If you're reading this review, and you haven't gotten this book--do it. It's a great way of thinking, and it's one of the "quake moment" books that can truly have a great effect on you.
I felt like the book could have been done and dusted in 2 or 3 chapters. There wasn't much new content, it was the same stuff over and over. Maybe I'm just jaded because I've already read a lot of books with this sort of content.
I really enjoyed "Trust Me, I'm Lying". It was engaging because I suspected what was going on in new media but this book really laid it bare. I think the difference is that instead of re-presenting other peoples ideas the author was giving insight into something he knew inside and out.
His voice was nasal because I think he had a cold or a blocked nose. This was pretty hard to listen to.
I have read the kindle version and listened to the Audible version several times. The ideas are timeless and empowering. I find myself recalling the book throughout the day. I have also found myself trying to relay the lessons and concepts to my own daughters.
Focusing exclusively on what is in our control magnifies our power. Every ounce of energy directed at things we can’t actually influence is wasted, self-indulgent & self-destructive.
In the preface, the author steals 30 minutes of your time to tell you what the book IS NOT.
According to him, the book is not just a collection of quotes and old sayings and stereotypes.
In fact, you will discover that you wasted your time twice because that is exactly what the book is, a salad of random quotes served with a dressing with a hint of badly regurgitated concepts from stoic philosophy. Do not worry: if you do not know what stoicism is, the author will not explain it, but rather give you a few pseudo-stoic quotes - or non quotes from celebrities than in the mind of the writer represent stoic philosophy.
It's the first audible book that I regret.
I am not picky with voices, but he seems to have recorded this with a stuffy nose or a cold of some sort
Terrible narration, I couldnt help wondering what the person who chose that narrator was thinking. This is an audio book!
It's flimsy. I found myself wondering how long it would be if you took out the words, "The Obstacle Is the Way," which were repeated like a chorus in between loose anecdotes. Not my favorite.
Also, that was a nasty cold he had for the first two hours.
"see a problem as a blessing"
a must read, if you are not familiar with stoicism then read this and if you are then in the intent to emphasise; read this. the book basically preaches that bad things are going to happen, accept it, see it as an opportunity to grow and a lesson to learn from because nothing that happens to you is more than you can bare.
"Stop complaining and get on with it!"
This is great book. Although as others have said narrators should take a day off if they have a cold. I have listened to it 4 or 5 times.
In a nutshell this book reminded me of a cross between Mastery by Robert Green and a modern version of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations
I always enjoy listening to books that have mini biographies of people turning their situations around. Its always reassuring to know that other peoples lives don’t always go to plan as well. People who have had significantly worse days than mine have stuck with it and got through to the other side – often with fame and fortune for their trouble.
I found nothing new in the book but I find that I often need reminding that it’s not that bad and I should just get on with it.
"A good read, but slightly not what I was expecting"
No, I think once you get toward the end of the book the theme gets a little repetitive and there is no need to complete it.
If the philosophy was rooted with some actual philosophy this would have made the theory more enjoyable
In my opinion no, I would have preferred something based on more evidence.
The book was delivered brilliantly, Ryan was a great performer. Unfortunately in my opinion the book didn't reach my expectations - I believe toward the end the book was entirely repeating the same material and wasted some of my time.
"Lots of Useful and Usable life lessons"
Been an avid Tim Ferriss fan I'd heard many similar ideas before, but I believe you can't listen to a good idea about how to live well too many times. And the ideas here are well presented and allow you to believe that obstacles can not only be tackled but relished. I listened to this at a perfect time as I injured my back whilst listening to this book and performing circus shows at Edinburgh Fringe Festival!
"Worth listening to"
Anything that quotes Marcus Aurelius is worth listening to.
The book is also worth listening to in that it shows that stoic philosophy is a practical thing to practice rather than just an academic exercise.
It might have been better to just buy Marcus Aurelius's Meditations instead but I think I will enjoy and understand the Meditations more having listened to this book first.
The author is wiser than his years. It's good in some ways when an author read his own work but an older voice with more gravitas might have impacted more.
Practical and modem applicability of these great ancient lessons from Marcus Aurelius.
Thank you Ryan and Tim.
"Enjoyable, inspirational and useful!"
I found this a practical and useful introduction to Stoicism as a useable perspective and guide to the many challenges in life...
Bonus chapter is an interview between Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss (following Tim's format for his super popular podcast series!)
This is a book I will revisit often!
Now on to the Tao of Seneca by Tim Ferriss audio :)
Loved every single chapter of the book. Such a rare find! Special thanks to Alex Ikonn for this recommendation!
"Stunning insight into great human thoughts"
This book is an incredible insight into how to be a better person, so much value for so little cost, thank you Ryan Holiday ☺️👍
"Didn't like the voice"
The author makes it sound trivial and sort of like a collage pamphlet rather than a timeless book about how to live your life.
I value it for pointing to (reminding rather...) the right set of attitudes one should cary with himself all the time and just during the crisis.
Hence I'll dig deeper in stoicism which I probably wouldn't have done so without hearing this audiobook.
That's 4 stars right there.
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