The Obstacle is the Way review

E-Book, 224 Pages
Philosophy/ Non-Fiction
By: Ryan Holiday
Rating: 🌟🌟

“Think progress, not perfection.”

A book that sold more than a million copies, has ~50K ratings and an average rating of 4.15 should be great right? Nah and the top reviews are mostly disappointed people with one stars which should have told me something about it. I came upon this book when I was looking for more Non-Fiction to read and expand my horizons. Matt D’Avella who is one of my favorite YouTubers at this time once recommended it in one of his videos, I knew I was gonna read it then. Also I wanted to learn more about Stoicism which I discovered recently (Not the biggest fan of philosophy) and I thought this book would be helpful, unfortunately it wasn’t!

The problem with this book is that it does provide a few good points but it does so in 200 pages more than it should have been. The points I can take from this book can be summed in a blog post, to be honest I mentioned this book to a friend of mine who is a huge philosophy nerd and we talked about stoicism a bit and I felt it was more helpful than this book.

The language is “Preachy” and the author lets you feel that he discovered a secret of the universe and he wants to share it with us just like the tone used in the book “The Secret” which -I hated- you probably have heard of.

Also the author has a huge problem with Selection Bias when it comes to this book. The examples mentioned are A) the same ones picked by all authors writing about productivity/ Success … etc and B) aren’t really the best examples because if I was in a debate with the author I would have easily won countering those same exact examples. The funny thing is how each book mentions Bill Gates for example from a different angle, Outliers tells us about his 10K hours of expertise he had before becoming huge, The Unfair Advantage is self explanatory and explains the advantages he had over people, The Happiness Advantage tells us how it is always group work and never an individual!

“After all, the brain is a muscle like any other active tissue. It can be built up and toned through the right exercises. Over time, their muscle memory grew to the point that they could intuitively respond to every situation. Especially obstacles.”

This quote also irked me because it shows the author has zero knowledge in the medicine field, “The brain is a muscle??!?!?!” how the heck was that even published? I even tried to think it may not be literal but if it was the case then it shows how the writing is weak!

Also at the end of the book the author mentions that Stoicism is best learned from the older original texts because they are easy to understand and most of the modern adaptations are not that great, this book was actually a proof of that!

“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”

Summary: I think the book has a few good points but it is not the best place to learn about stoicism. I expected to learn how to use obstacles to move forward too but it did not help with that, it was just example after example of people who did that, it may give a small motivational push and it may not given the fact how the examples were nitpicked in a biased way. The writing may be borderline on the toxic positivity side and for that reason, I think I am not gonna recommend this book for people interested in the subject. Maybe just take the author’s own advice and read some of the original texts like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius!

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