The Obstacle Is The Way

Author: Nelson Coulter, Chief Organizational Learning Officer of CEN

I recently read The Obstacle is the WAY: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday (2014).

I didn’t realize it until the very end of the book, but RH was really describing Stoicism. Interesting that I’ve never thought of myself as Stoic, but clearly, I have some Stoic tendencies. That, I think, is a generally good thing.

 

My top takeways:

-Difficulty and crisis make us better, or worse. It all depends on how we respond to them.

NOT panicking is a learnable skill, and a quite necessary one. It is fundamental to the training of astronauts.

-Emotion almost never has the power to change a condition or circumstance.

-Things that are in my control (assuming I choose to): Emotions, judgements, creativity, attitude, perspective, desires, decisions, and determination.

-Replacing fear with process is key to self-regulation (and organizational regulation).

-In truly important matters of strategy and deployment, have Plan A, and Plan B, and Plan C, and…

-Premortem is the act of exercising hindsight, in advance; an excellent strategy formulation technique.

 

My favorite quotes:

“…Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel…described what happens to businesses in tumultuous times: ‘Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.’” (p. 3)

 

“We must all either wear out or rust out, every one of us. My choice is to wear out.” – Theodore Roosevelt (p. 71)

 

“If you’re not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.” – Mike Tyson (p. 140)

 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Confirmed much of what I already believed and gave me interesting insight into some areas that I had not considered.

*If you’d like to read more of nc’s blatherings, go to www.nelsonwcoulter.com

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