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The Obstacle Is the Way

Plus: The Paradox of Fire


Marcus Aurelius once wrote to himself in the journal he never intended to publish that we now know as Meditations that “The impediment to action advances the action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Ryan Holiday wrote a book inspired by that wisdom called The Obstacle Is the Way.

It’s brilliant. I highly recommend it. (And, if you’ve ever wanted to learn more about Stoicism and were wondering where to start: Start with Ryan’s The Daily Stoic. Might be my favorite book ever as Ryan brilliantly brings to life fresh translations of Seneca, Epictetus and Aurelius.)

So, The Obstacle Is the Way.

The impediment to action ADVANCES the action. What stands in the way BECOMES the way.

We’re always trying to make problems or “obstacles” go away. But what if we just let them BE the way? What if we trained ourselves to immediately accept and love what it is as we rub our hands together at the opportunity to create a better plan using this new variable as a catalyst and going from there?

In The Inner Citadel (a book about Aurelius recommended by Ryan written by the great French philosopher Pierre Hadot), we learn about “the paradox of fire”—”which grows stronger the more things are brought to it which could smother it, or at least present an obstacle to it.”

All of which brings us to Today’s +1:

What’s the #1 obstacle that’s currently in your way?

How can you turn it into an essential part of the way?

Fuel the fire.