The Obstacle is the Way: A Bullet Point Summary

How you face challenges in life determine how well you can overcome obstacles. We share a simple summary of concepts discussed in The Obstacle is the Way.

The Obstacle is the Way: A Bullet Point Summary
God grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.

When navigating through life, you'll inevitably face obstacles of all sorts. The Obstacle is the Way details three disciplines to adopt in the face of an obstacle.

Mastering these three disciplines will enhance your ability to overcome obstacles in life. The book itself can be a bit preachy at times, so a summary can help a lot. Fortunately, I read the book so you don't have to. Below, we cover the contents of the book with a bullet point per chapter.

Cover for The Obstacle is the Way

Perception 👁️

What you perceive forms the basis of how you deal with the world.

  • You decide how you perceive things.
  • Control your nerves and keep a level head. You need to think straight.
  • It's natural to have emotions, but you must control them (and not vice versa).
  • Know the difference between what's true and judgments you formed on autopilot.
  • You decide your own identity.
  • Distinguish between what is or isn't within your control. Change the former. Accept the latter.
  • Focus on the present. Take things day by day.
  • What you believe can happen affects what happens in reality. Think big.
  • Regard any challenge you face as an opportunity.

Action 🏎️

Once you see the world for what it is, you can act and change the world.

  • It doesn't matter what cards you were dealt in life. What matters is how you play your hand.
  • Don't wait for perfect conditions. Get moving. You can always be doing more.
  • Be persistent. When surrender isn't an option, you'll find a way to win.
  • Iterate and learn from your failures. Pick yourself back up after a failure, and get better.
  • Follow a systematic process in life. Don't change your strategy for one-off events.
  • Whatever your job is, do it well. Do a good job, even if you're unhappy with your current job.
  • What's pragmatic matters more than what's ideal. Choose what works.
  • You don't have to fight losing battles head on. Indirect and creative approaches work too.
  • Sometimes restraint is the best action. Some obstacles address themselves. Don't interfere.
  • When taking action, focus on getting in the zone. It's how you get real work done.
  • Stop moping around when negative events occur. Use them to inspire further action.
  • Be prepared for the worst to happen, but focus more on doing your best.

Will 🏋️

No matter what you do, the world will test your willpower. If you lack the will to make change, nothing happens.

  • Acknowledge any pain you feel. Know that you can continue with whatever you were doing despite feeling pain.
  • Train up your physical and mental fortitude.
  • Anticipate what could go wrong. You won't be caught off guard.
  • Accept reality for what it is, not what it should be. Face the truth.
  • Find the beauty in everything that happens. (Even in your worst moments.)
  • Persevere. Not everything will go your way, but that's no reason to quit.
  • Don't sacrifice your morals or principles in hard times. Not everything is about you. Follow a purpose bigger than yourself.
  • Remember that you will eventually die.

Bringing It All Together

You'll notice a common pattern among the successful when going through life.

  • They see the world for what it is.
  • They do whatever they can in a situation.
  • They bear any necessary hardship.

Note that your encounters with obstacles may not always turn out the way you hoped. Regardless, you'll emerge from the experience as a better person.

The cycle repeats itself for the rest of your life. Overcoming one obstacle opens up more obstacles. You never finish, but that's what makes life interesting.