I’m about two-thirds of the way through this book, but I think I’ve read enough to offer a fair review here. The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph (Portfolio/Penguin 2014) is business and media strategist Ryan Holiday’s latest book. It’s the first of his books that I’ve read, and, though I’ve found it an easy read and useful enough, it will probably be the last.
Holiday’s idea here is a good one – he applies the principles of stoic philosophers and writers to modern day entrepreneurship – but the book could maybe have been about five pages long. The gist of it is this: Stop making excuses, take action that is in line with your principles, and stop seeing every problem as entirely negative – every situation has something positive to offer, if you only stop to look for it.
I like those ideas, but they are not enough, or perhaps just not developed enough in this book to keep me engaged. Still, I’ve been happy lately to have Holiday’s written tongue lashings replaying themselves over and over in my mind as I begin the early stages of a new endeavor. I feel that I’ve got my money’s worth with “Obstacle,” despite the fact that the quality of the writing feels a bit like a self-published book.
Ryan Holiday is incredibly successful for his young age, so there’s probably a lot we can learn from him. Because the book is such an easy read, I’d give it a modest “Recommend” for anyone on the verge of striking out on their own for the first time.