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Editorial Reviews

The ancient Stoic philosophy of turning obstacles into opportunities is the unlikely premise behind this number-one best seller. The principles may be 2,000 years old but they have been adopted by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and high-performing athletes to great effect.

'What impedes us can empower us', explains the author Ryan Holiday in the preface to The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph. Holiday studied the Stoic philosophers and translated their principles into three disciplines: perception, action and will. In this empowering audiobook, he illustrates how to put those principles into practice through anecdotes and stories about famous figures from politics, sports, business and history, including John D Rockefeller, Amelia Earhart, Barack Obama and Steve Jobs.

First published in 2014, The Obstacle Is the Way quickly became popular with American sports teams, including the New England Patriots on their way to winning the Super Bowl. Athletes may seem an unlikely audience for stoicism, but the core messages of controlling what you can control, staying in the moment, and taking one game at a time struck a chord with competitive players and their coaches.

Narrated by the author, The Obstacle Is the Way is a must-listen for high-achievers in all fields. Holiday has gone on to write other books about career success and personal development based on ancient wisdom, including Ego Is the Enemy, Perseverance and the Art of Living, Stillness Is the Key and The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom.

Publisher's Summary

"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

What listeners say about The Obstacle Is the Way

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Great content, narrator needs coaching

I found this a really valuable introduction to stoic philosophy, and importantly relates it to everyday life. Thanks to this I’m going to check out Marcus Aurelius and Seneca next. I congratulate Ryan Holiday on narrating his own books, however (and I’m reluctant to point this out as he has confessed to being self conscious about his own voice) his voice sounds rather dull and flat and for part of the recording it even sounds like he has rather bad nasal congestion. Perhaps with his next reading he could consult a voice coach to work on his delivery sounding more bright and engaging. However I always like it when an author reads their own work.

15 people found this helpful

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Fantastic book

Highly consistent and on topic, the whole book felt like 1 chapter which I enjoyed. It also sparked my interest in the people discussed through out the book. This is one of those books that will leave you on a trail of exploring deeper.

12 people found this helpful

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Life Changing Listen

Cheers Ryan, my friend recommended this read and every past time story has a unique message the resonates every facet of one's journey through life.

6 people found this helpful

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Thank you Ryan!

Great book, one of my new top 5. Ryan does an excellent job of using natural language while keeping the integrity of the story's age. He has a warm feel to his narration, almost like he's sitting there reading his book in the same room

4 people found this helpful

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This one is a life changer.

The Obstacle is the Way completely flips business problems 180 degrees.

It's so popular to right now to say "you can't succeed until you fail", "fail bigger and grow faster" and all that. You tend to accept it and dismiss it...

This book helps you to see it from a vast historical perspective... It makes it more real somehow... more valid.

Ryan Holiday might not have been the best choice to narrate the book, but overall he did a great job getting the message across.

4 people found this helpful

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Hit the Mark

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes I would - it is a great book

What was one of the most memorable moments of The Obstacle Is the Way?

It makes us realise that the challenge is the way we grow - and if we change what we think about the challenge - we can grow more

What about Ryan Holiday’s performance did you like?

the historical perspective and the use of real life examples

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Several

Any additional comments?

I have already recommended to several of my friends , who, like me are searching for ways to keep growing

3 people found this helpful

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Tough but true

This book highlights that once you can accept your obstacle, you are then able to springboard off that obstacle and realise your capacity.

6 people found this helpful

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Great book

I enjoy the book, easy to follow and understand, the bonus interveiw I felt made the author more relatable and the additional book recommendations was great to receive. Well worth the effort!

2 people found this helpful

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Affirming reading.

I will read this book over & over throughout my life, it is so well written for someone starting out in philosophy.

In a word. Excellent.

2 people found this helpful

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One of my favourite books I've purchased on Audibl

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and will be listening to it many times over. It's straight forward, and easy to digest. Practical advice presented using interesting examples and stories. I found it to be a thought provoking book with many 'Ah-ha' moments.

1 person found this helpful

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  • jibmo109
  • 11-05-2017

Authors should not read their own books

Very good content that piqued my interest in stoicism. It serves as pep talk and guide book when facing or contemplating tough times. However, the author's reading detracted significantly from the experience--like Ben Stein with a cold talking around a lozenge. Please, put your ego aside and let the professional readers do their job. I'd buy it again for the content, but a trained voice actor would make this a delight instead of a slog.

157 people found this helpful

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  • Eric Lymon
  • 04-02-2020

Short on Actionable Advice

First, the Publisher/Producer should have required a professional reader instead of having the author self-read. His nasal voice is a big problem.

Second, the content is long on abstract imperatives of ancient wisdom and short on means to put that wisdom to work. I am a huge fan of literature from antiquity (having taken 8 years of Latin), but this work fails to translate the beauty and power of that literature into something usable today. Better off just reading Marcus Aurelius himself.

The 4.6 rating from Audible is misleading and untrustworthy. Be skeptical before you buy.

37 people found this helpful

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  • Jason DeFillippo
  • 08-05-2014

Great book I wish I had 25 years ago

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.

376 people found this helpful

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  • Paul B
  • 23-10-2014

This book will change the way you think

Where does The Obstacle Is the Way rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Marcus Aurelius

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

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.

129 people found this helpful

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  • TL
  • 08-08-2017

The narrator ruined the book.

I think this is an example on how a narrator can take away a lot in a book.
Even when the narrator is the author, you may think that the performance would be more "natural" but many times it just feels like he is reading an extract that he doen't enjoy, monotonous and sometimes "lifeless" I would ask someone else to read the book and republish it.

223 people found this helpful

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  • R. Stolz
  • 17-12-2018

Tim Ferris Garbage

This book is unresearched and has a bunch of untruths to it.

The narration is awful.

The last two hours are a low quality podcast style interview with Tim Ferris and the author.

15 people found this helpful

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  • Lululu
  • 22-05-2014

Don't narrate your book if you have a cold

Where does The Obstacle Is the Way rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Controlling of emotion isn't a new topic. It's been talked about since human civilization amongst different schools of philosophies and religions. Yet this book still managed to be interesting and insightful.

What did you like best about this story?

References of real people and stories

What do you think the narrator could have done better?

Not having a code when reading.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Nope, I learned to control my emotion :P

Any additional comments?

Great book, will recommend to friends.

85 people found this helpful

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  • DJ Hill
  • 29-09-2014

good book but i could hardly stand to listen to it

Where does The Obstacle Is the Way rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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)

How did the narrator detract from the book?

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!

279 people found this helpful

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  • ANDRÉ
  • 26-06-2014

A good listen

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.

55 people found this helpful

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  • Lgfranks
  • 25-07-2014

Spectacular "Operating System" for Your Life

Would you consider the audio edition of The Obstacle Is the Way to be better than the print version?

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!

What other book might you compare The Obstacle Is the Way to and why?

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.

What about Ryan Holiday’s performance did you like?

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.

What’s an idea from the book that you will remember?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

64 people found this helpful

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  • Matthew Henry
  • 16-11-2016

Fantastic read

Ryan Holiday's work is so humbling. You can listen to this over and over again the book has infinite potential.

20 people found this helpful

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  • M J Ball
  • 01-12-2015

Stop complaining and get on with it!

Would you listen to The Obstacle Is the Way again? Why?

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.

What other book might you compare The Obstacle Is the Way to, and why?

In a nutshell this book reminded me of a cross between Mastery by Robert Green and a modern version of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

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.

Any additional comments?

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.

33 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 27-05-2020

Please redo Part 1.

The guy has a heavy cold reading part 1 and it's the most annoying thing to listen to. When he stated reading part 2 with a clear nose, it's like listening to a new book but makes it all the more annoying that you pained your way through listening to part 1.
Please Ryan Holiday, redo Part 1.

9 people found this helpful

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  • Paschal
  • 26-07-2016

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 23-07-2016

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.

13 people found this helpful

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  • Steve O'Nolan
  • 10-01-2019

Sounds like his nose is blocked

Often contradictory, heavily reliant on speculation and historical quotes, repeats himself throughout. Read in a very boring, nasal manner

9 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • J Westwood
  • 06-01-2018

Good but repetitive

A good message but written in a way that's a bit repetitive. Much of the argument for this philosophy seems to be pure assertion.

4 people found this helpful

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  • LARA
  • 25-07-2019

Cliche

After cliche after cliche. By claiming in tge beginning that the book wasn’t gonna be about power phrases he manages to make a whole book out of it.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Rentaghost
  • 08-12-2016

Inspiring

A great introduction to some great thinkers and ways of thinking when life gets you in a pinch; and everyday situations for those those aspiring to success and the everyman alike.

6 people found this helpful

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  • Sam S
  • 09-05-2020

Keyword stuffed and repetative

The content in this book can best fit in an article online. Ryan has stretched it out into a book by stuffing sentences with keywords and by being overly repetative. Really, I tried to stick with it, I hate leaving books unfinished but this just began to question my intelligence and I felt stupid for listening to this repetative and keyword stuff content. Core message on Marcus and Stoicism is good but it's been written so badly.

2 people found this helpful

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