Currently my favorite book by one of my favorite authors in Ryan Holiday. The Obstacle Is The Way is based on Stoic Philosophy with much talk of Marcus Aurelious, Epictetus, and Socrates - yes the names we all rolled our eyes at in Philosophy class. It is a culmination of stories of how many of the greats before us have approached life. With a flexible and conquering mentality. Following is one of my favorite quotes from the book.
We forget in life it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given. And the only way you’ll do something spectacular is by using it all to your advantage. People turn shit into sugar all the time. Shit that’s a lot worse than whatever we’re dealing with. I’m talking physical disabilities, racial discrimination, battles over overwhelmingly superior armies. But those people didn’t quit, they didn’t feel sorry for themselves, they didn’t dilute themselves with fantasies about easy solutions. They focused on the one thing that mattered. Applying themselves with gusto and creativity.
Many of us experience life as a series of obstacles to avoid - crutches that pervents us from doing what we want or need to do. In fact we avoid them deciding they're not worth the effort because we have so many other thing that need to get done. But Ryan says that these obstacles are the path, maybe not the path we planned, but by confronting them they will lead us to where we want to go. They help us find our way and lead us to a better place than we ever thought possible.
If everything was easy, who would you be today? On our journey to the top bad things happen and we must know how to deal with them. And you never will if everything has always been easy. Think about the people that are memorable.We usually only see the end product, when people seem magical having made all the right decisions. We become awestruck and jealous thinking they were born this way, lucky enough to have been given good genes, money, luck, etc... But we fail to see their journey, the path and obstacles that allowed them to become who we see now. We remember the stories of those who faced impossible odds and were forged by the difficulties they overcame. And we don't particularly remember the stories of those who had everything given to them.
One of my favorite stories in this book is of Thomas Edison and the time his research and production campus went up in flames. Supposedly fire-proof and insured for only of a fraction of its worth, over $1 million dollars ($23 million today) went up in flames. While many of us would be pleading, cursing the world, or terrified of what was to come Franklin simply responded with "It's all right. We've just got rid of a lot of rubbish". In fact he sought his son out and told him to find his mother and all her friends as they would never see a fire like this again. Can you believe his reaction? To not only be calm, but to also find enjoyment in it. And what happened after? He got back to work and despite the loss Edison would go on to make nearly $10 million dollars in revenue that year.
So get back to work, stop feeling sorry for yourself and just make things happen.