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Episode 53 — Ryan Holiday — The Obstacle Is the Way

"If you're not failing or falling short, you're probably not taking enough risks or swinging big enough" - Ryan Holiday

  • Why is Stoicism as relevant today as it's ever been?
  • How does our perception of challenges affect our ability to overcome them?
  • Why is worrying about a problem a waste of your time?
  • How can accepting defeat help you make progress?

Ryan Holiday: The Modern Stoic

Ryan Holiday is the best-selling author of books such as The Obstacle Is the Way, Ego Is the Enemy, Stillness Is the Key, and many more. His writings on Stoicism bring the philosophy out of 300 BC Athens into the modern world and help people overcome contemporary problems with the same philosophies founded and honed by thinkers like Zeno of Citium and Marcus Aurelius.

Ryan gives us a crash course in Stoicism and details how ourselves and our businesses can benefit from adopting some Stoic teachings, applying the philosophy to our everyday lives. We also discuss how changing our perception of events can help us to find the positives in the negative, why we have more control than we think when we're dealt a bad hand, and how training ourselves to see past "destructive emotions" can help us persevere in difficult times.

Own What You Can Control

So often in our daily lives, things come up that we simply can't avoid or change — and we often spend too much energy worrying about these inconveniences rather than focusing our efforts on the things in life that we can exert some influence over.

We discuss one of the fundamental teachings of the Stoics: the dichotomy of control. Ryan breaks the thinking down, explaining that this pillar of the philosophy can be brought into the 21st century by viewing it as an exercise in resource allocation. Plus, by simply spending your "energy points" in areas where you can make a difference, you'll spend less time worrying about the areas where you can't.

Courage is Action in the Face of Fear

When we're worried or scared, our immediate reaction is to lock up, get stuck in our own heads, and shy away from whatever the problem is. But the inaction itself can be just as damaging as the obstacle and doesn't do anything to overcome it.

Ryan shares his secrets for overcoming adversity and taking on challenges that seem too big to conquer. He discusses strategies for tackling seemingly impossible tasks, and he explains why as leaders in business and communities, we don't have the luxury of freezing up in the face of fear.

Key takeaways:

  • Success is achieved through failures, so appreciate your losses as markers on the road to victory.
  • Adversity can make you stronger as long as you recognize and accept it as an opportunity for growth.
  • Tap into your inner strength. Use previous moments of struggle as proof that you can overcome the challenges of the future.

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