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The Obstacles is the Way – review

The obstacles is the way, stuart bush studio notes, book review

The Obstacles is the Way – book review

Have you ever considered that there are no statues of critics?   If someone said to you “Really! You’re going to make a living out of your art! Ha, ha! You’re going to starve!”  How would that make you feel? Would that be enough to break the hypnotic rhythm of everyday life? Would a statement like that make you stand up an inch taller and say I’ll show you!  Does it make you want to prove it to them, that you can do it?  Does it become the power of you? In ‘The Obstacles is the Way,’ it is Ryan Holiday’s contention, that the great men and women, such as, Marcus Aurelius, Demosthenes, Theodore Roosevelt, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, John D Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, Ulysses S Grant, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, amongst others, have experience to help us. Ryan Holiday seeks to explain that obstacles such as self-doubt can inhibit success; however, through a change in perspective, obstacles can also do the opposite. By looking, “through the negative, past its underside, and into its corollary: the positive” Holiday explains, “we can gain the insight we need.” “What stands in the way becomes the way,” “in the timeless art of turning trials into triumphs.”


Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Outliers – Book review

Early in his book Ryan Holiday encourages the reader to write a list of the “athletes that were too small, pilots whose eyesight wasn’t good enough. Dreamers ahead of their team. Member of this race or that. Dropouts and dyslexics. Bastards, immigrants, nouveaux riches, sticklers, believers, and dreamers…and what happened to them? Well, far too many gave up. But a few didn’t.., They practised harder looked for shortcuts and weak spots…everything was an obstacle they had to flip.”


Holiday does an excellent job of pointing out that obstacles can become the fuel for the fire burning within us. What “The great men and women of history have in common,” Holiday says is that, “nothing could stop them, they were (and continue to be) impossible to discourage and contain. Every impediment only served to make the inferno within them burn with greater ferocity.” Holiday continues, “Never forgot within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.” As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “The things which hurt, instruct.”

Source, -https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=58700406

The Obstacles is the Way – book review

The Obstacles are the Way - Amazon UK link
The Obstacles are the Way - Amazon US link

The book highlights that the obstacles that stop us are mainly internal, rather than external. It is all too common to lose perspective by focusing on obstacles rather than our goals. We express dissatisfaction or resentment; get frustrated and ask the wrong questions. We are looking to blame someone or something. “How could they do that to you? Who do they think they are?” 


At that moment, we can’t see a solution. Inevitability it is our perspective and inner turmoil that gets in our way. We stop seeing things objectively.  The obstacles look impassable. However, Holiday’s accomplished writing draws attention to the fact that all too often we get so wrapped up by focusing on the problem that we can’t see the wood for the trees. By simplifying words of wisdom from Stoic philosophy of inspection and scrutiny, and the success from a wide range of prosperous talent, we can learn that we need to be more resourceful. If we stand back, thinking with introspection and keep calm while stopping our emotions from running away with us, we need to remember these valuable lessons—enabling us to reflect on dependable methods and attitudes of successful leaders amid the chaos of our lives.


Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Ego is the Enemy – Book Review

One of the highly memorable stories Holiday discusses in the book was the German Blitzkrieg in the Second World War. The fast-moving offensive German line caught the Allied forces completely unprepared. It resulted in catastrophic results. Panzer tanks and artillery rushed forward while Stuka bombers dive-bombed, clearing the way from above. The concentration of these offensive weapons working together as a unit was devastating. Opposing commanders surrendered instead of fighting the monster attacking them. The power of the German approach let to the Allies focusing on their vulnerabilities.


Holiday asks, “How could they stop it? An answer seemed to be beyond the bounds of possibility. However, one great leader answered that question. Striding into the conference room at headquarters in Malta, General Dwight D. Eisenhower made an announcement: He’d have no more of this quivering timidity from his deflated generals. “The present situation is to be regarded as an opportunity for us and not disaster”, he commanded. “There will be only cheerful faces at this conference table.”” I can imagine Eisenhower slamming his fist on the table.


As 50,000 German rushed headfirst, the Allies realised they need to readjust their perspective. The Nazi approach contained its own undoing. Rather than seeing it as impossible, the Allies began to see it as an advantageous opportunity. The Germans were leaving their flanks exposed. This mental flip, looking at the opportunity as a way for the Allies to make a ‘meat grinder,’ the Blitzkrieg, who once appeared as an intolerable obstacle leading to the imminent surrender of the Allies, they saw instead; a fortuitous chance to ambush the German on all sides at once. Thereby, they helped change the outcome of World War Two.

The Obstacles is the Way – book review

Everything is abstract in my language of paint

In hindsight, the allies realised that it was the opinions that were formed in advance that caused the temporary psychological limited state. Holiday highlights that history can teach us “where the head goes the body follows. Perception precedes action. Right action follows the right perspective.” using “Step by step, action by action” we can “dismantle the obstacles in front of us. With persistence and flexibility, we’ll act in the best interest of our goals.”


The Obstacle is the Way’, by Ryan Holiday, shows us ‘the timeless art of turning trials into triumphs.’ He gives us a thoroughly enjoyable short read. Instead of getting disheartened by hurdles, blaming or complaining, the insight and stories in the book help to give a fresh perspective.  Holiday shows us that dynamic people can find a way around the disaster and make it a triumph.  The real liability is not the problem, but our attitude and approach. It is the obstacles that make the great, ‘Great’. By turning weakness into strength, they “steal good fortune from misfortune.” In doing so, “the obstacles in the path becomes the path.” As Holiday says, “never forgot, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Ryan Holiday Stuart Bush Studio Notes book review

Ryan Holiday Photography By Luiz Berengue – https://www.flickr.com/photos/92198343@N04/8377654883/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75622297

Stuart Bush Studio Notes

Making a better painting than I did yesterday
Recommended reading, 5 out of 5.
“One of the great challenges today is that we often feel helpless.  We can feel a slave to life.  In the flow of water in the centre of the river. We are not empowered or poised for action. We are being taken along for the ride and we have little control other our final destination.  This is where art and knowledge can make a difference, to see things from another perspective. 
Engaging with art and books like this doesn’t tell you what to do, but instead connects you with your senses.  Enabling to use and trust your intuition.  Spurring thinking, engagement and action.  If you connect with my interest in painting and gaining knowledge, you’re welcome to join my artist’s newsletter to follow me on my journey to learn more.  I can’t wait to find a way, or make my own.”
– Stuart Bush