Choosing Not to See

Last week we sent a Quality Question inspired by Ryan Holiday’s best-selling book, The Obstacle is the Way.

Ryan takes timeless principles from the ancient Stoic philosophers and makes them accessible and relevant to our modern lives.

In this YouTube video, Ryan shares 12 great questions inspired by Stoicism, including this one:

What am I missing by choosing to worry or be afraid?

We all have limited focus, time, and energy. It’s up to us to choose how we spend it.

If we choose to spend our precious time and energy feeling anxious and worrying, then we must know, it comes at a cost.

In other words, worrying and feeling anxious are not just unpleasant emotions. They are actively destructive.

We can’t control everything that happens to us in life, but we can choose how we spend our energy and where we focus our thoughts.

If there’s something that you’re worried about or that’s making you feel anxious, ask yourself: What am I choosing not to see right now?

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The Obstacle is the Way

Sometimes the thing that we think is preventing us from achieving our goal is actually the key to our success.

This simple, counter-intuitive principle is the core idea of Ryan Holiday’s best-selling book, The Obstacle is the Way.

Here’s how you can apply that lesson in your own life:

First, think of some area of life where you’re struggling to find a way forward, and ask yourself:

What’s the obstacle in my way, and how can I use it to my advantage?

Here’s one famous example of someone turning a weakness into a gold medal:

As a student, Dick Fosbury struggled to even qualify to compete in the high jump. His obstacle? Fosbury couldn’t quite master complicated “straddle” technique that athletes used to get over the bar.

Fosbury experimented with other, less popular techniques for getting over the bar that required less coordination. He ended up inventing his own technique, which he used to shatter his school’s high jump record, win an NCAA championship, and take home gold 🥇at the 1968 Olympics.

The Fosbury Flop technique is used by most high jumpers today.

The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.

The Obstacle is the Way