The Obstacle Is the Way

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The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
The Obstacle Is the Way.jpg
First edition (US)
AuthorRyan Holiday
Cover artistErin Tyler
CountryUnited States
PublisherPortfolio (US)
Profile Books (UK)
Publication date
May 1, 2014
Pages224 pages

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph is the third book by author Ryan Holiday and was published in 2014.[1] It is loosely based on the Hellenic philosophy of stoicism.[2][3] It has sold over 100,000 copies since its release and been translated into 17 languages.[4]


The title of the book is drawn from a quote from Meditations, a series of personal writings by Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius: “The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”[1] Holiday draws from Meditations, Aurelius, and the philosophy of stoicism to expand the idea that how we respond to obstacles is what defines us.[5] Holiday argues that obstacles don't inhibit success, they create success and that readers should see "through the negative, past its underside, and into its corollary: the positive."[6][7]

The Obstacle Is The Way is structured around three disciplines: perception, action and will.[8] Each section uses historical anecdotes and figures from politics, commerce, sports, and history including Theodore Roosevelt, Demosthenes, John D Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ulysses S. Grant, Barack Obama, Steve Jobs, among others.[1][6][9]

In May 2014, Holiday had the title of the book tattooed to his forearm.[10][11] The book was included in Gear Patrol's "10 Best Books of Summer", and named one of Entrepreneur Magazine's must read holiday books.[12]

The audiobook of The Obstacle Is The Way was later published by Tim Ferriss.[13]

Reception and influence[edit]

After the book's release, the book slowly made its way through the community of professional sports, after being read by a number of prominent athletes and head coaches including Joe Maddon of the Chicago Cubs, UT basketball coach Shaka Smart, tennis pro James McGee, NFL lineman Garrett Gilkey, Olympic gold medalist Chandra Crawford, and others.[4][14] On the way to their 2014 Super Bowl victory, Michael Lombardi and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots distributed copies of The Obstacle Is the Way to their staff and players.[4][15][16] In the 2015 season, Seattle Seahawks GM John Schneider and Pete Carroll passed the book around the team's locker room.[15][17]


  1. ^ a b c Schawbel, Dan. "Ryan Holiday: How Challenges Become Opportunities For Entrepreneurs". Forbes.
  2. ^ PAVIA, WILL. "The teachings of Marcus Aurelius rebooted for a chaotic world". The Australian.
  3. ^ The Obstacle Is the Way: The Right Mindset for Finding Success
  4. ^ a b c Bishop, Greg How a book on stoicism became wildly popular at every level of the NFL Sports Illustrated. December 10, 2015
  5. ^ HERRMANN, JOSHI. "How to avoid a work crisis with a 'pre-mortem'". London Evening Standard.
  6. ^ a b "The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage". Publisher's Weekly.
  7. ^ Trapp, Roger. "True Leaders Do As A Roman Did - And Focus On The Positive". Forbes.
  8. ^ Taylor, Ivana. ""The Obstacle is the Way" Gives Unusual Advice for Success". Small Business Trends.
  9. ^ Willis, Tyler. "Read Stoicism". BigThink.
  10. ^ "Ryan Holiday Tattoos The Obstacle Is The Way on His Arm". Penguin.
  11. ^ Gregoire, Carolyn. "This Ancient Philosophy Is What We Desperately Need In Our Modern Lives". Huffington Post.
  12. ^ 5 Uplifting Books You Should Read This Holiday Season
  13. ^ Holiday, Ryan. "Tim Ferriss Publishes Betabeat Editor Under New Audiobook Venture". BetaBeat.
  14. ^ Manthorpe, Rowland Life Lessons from Ancient Greece The Economist. March 24, 2016
  15. ^ a b Pete Carroll, NFL's eternal optimist, is ready to turn heartbreak into triumph Sports Illustrated. December 10, 2015
  16. ^ Smith, Morgan The Patriots 2014 secret weapon may have been a book Patriots Gab. December 10, 2015
  17. ^ Toren, Adam 5 Epic Leaders Who Studied Stoicism -- and Why You Should Too Entrepreneur. December 10, 2015

External links[edit]