Other Writers on Self-Examination and Change – Ryan Holiday

The Obstacle is the Way
by Ryan Holiday
Published by Penguin Group
2014

In this amazingly concise narrative, Ryan Holiday lays out what we know to be the secrets of a positive and commanding approach to living. The title “The Obstacle is the Way’ is taken from one of the thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor that articulates the art of turning obstacles upside down. The book represents ideas of stoicism which were founded in Athens in the early 3rd century BC. This school of thought is predominantly a philosophy of personal ethics informed by a system of logic and views on natural laws.

Within this context Mr. Holiday weaves an understanding of how to accept and deal with circumstances that seem to keep us from accomplishing our goals. The powerful premise he presents is that the obstacle is not an impediment but rather an opportunity to use our uniquely human attributes to address obstaacles.

The material that follows is a series of short essays organized around three guiding principles he refers to as disciplines;
1) Perception: a function of the mind,
2) Action: a function of the body, and
3) Will: a function of the heart.

Perception is used to define how we see things. We train our perception to see solutions, not problems. We use our intellect to control our emotions to better address difficulties with reason. We prepare to act by developing a plan and assessing the contingencies that may need to be employed. Without these developed skills we are likely to give up before we start. Without objectivity we are likely to be consumed by fear and confusion. Without a plan we waste time and energy that leaves us discouraged and exhausted.

In my book, A Process; Developing a New Approach to Living, I point out that our difficulties stem from an incorrect perception about who we are and our place in the world. This misperception is at the root of our difficulty in adopting a positive approach. If we only see problems it is likely because we consider ourselves to be incapable, flawed in some way, or afraid of failure. Until we discover, examine and address our erroneous core beliefs about ourselves, applying the positive aspects of perception are less ineffective.

Action, the second discipline, is the aspect of addressing obstacles with strength. Action implies moving forward. Action is synonymous with not stopping. When one thing is not working, action means redirecting the efforts. In my view, the most notable element of action is “trust the process” which Ryan uses to emphasize that action is applied in the here and now. There is an immediacy and unambiguity about action.

Why would we have prepared a plan with the first discipline if we were not going to use it. The plan is the process to be followed laying out the sequential steps to keep on task. This guiding tool is the essence of what is laid out in my book for positive change. One stage leads to the next but there is no point in jumping forward until the current stage is complete. There is no short cut to the end. What I really like about Ryan’s approach is his detailing the positive elements of action that can be used to execute the plan.

I was not expecting the aspect of will to deal with obstacle, but as I read the third section it became clear that will is equally as necessary as perception and action. Will is the impulse to “not give up”. The examples provided include; the fortitude to find more strength after all energy appears to be completely depleted, calling on a vision or purpose makes the effort worthwhile or using these tools to address difficulties in order to transform day-to-day tasks into character defining moments. Without a challenge, the victory would be hollow. Without resistance we would not build strength. But remember, not all problems are solvable and life does not last forever.

In Mr. Holiday’s book the objective is to refine how we see ourselves in relation to impediments we find in our way and in so doing be the fully functioning person we are capable of being. In my book the objective is to discover the impediments we put up in our own way, address them and change them and in so doing be the fully functioning person we are capable of being.

I enthusiastically recommend you read this and the other books Ryan has written. Find them at RyanHoliday.net Their clarity in presenting the most basic of human strengths is an invaluable addition to anyone’s tool-box in living a meaningful and productive life.

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site reinventionentperprises.com

When do we know we’ve lost our humanity? – Commitment

When the commitment is gone from our endeavor.

We are most valued when we demonstrate that we can be trusted.

When I express my commitment to act in a particular way, others expect that I mean what I say and trust me to follow through. Making a firm decision to accomplish an objective and actually doing it is a habit of most successful people. If I feel uncertain that I have the resolve to finish a task, I am not likely to voice a commitment.

The discussion of making a decision to do what it takes to make change in my life is expressed in Stage 3 of the book. An excerpt from page 24 talks about the enormity of the task upon which I am about to embark.

“I am not simply looking for some modest improvements, tweaking around the edges, or identifying some mistakes that were made unwittingly. The process described here involves radical rethinking about how I rationalize and defend my closely held understandings and how I interpret my behavior patterns”.

Exercises:
Am I really willing to undertake radical trans formative change. Am I truly committed to completing this task when it becomes much more difficult than what I expected.

These concepts are expressed in Stage 3 of the book.

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site reinventionentperprises.com or to acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/.

Excerpts from an article in Psychology Today – January 2018

The article titled “Change Artist

This article is yet another demonstration that lay people as well as professionals come to such strikingly similar conclusions regarding the process of change. I have taken the liberty to compare the findings outlined in this article with the Stages provided in my book – A Process: Developing a New Approach to Living. Nine out of my 12 Stages are referenced by the authors of this piece.

Rules for Reinvention
“It’s possible to make fundamental changes in behavior —and even personality—at any age.”

1. Don’t beat yourself up for your problem; it serves a purpose.
Stage 1. There are lessons to be learned that only experience can teach you.

2. Accept the deep discomfort of uncertainty that change brings; it’s only temporary.
Stage 2. Let go of the resistance to change and embrace the reality of what you are experiencing.

3. Prepare in advance ways to counter feelings of frustration and discouragement.
Stage 3. Make a commitment that is stronger than your habitual self-defeating behavior.

4. Acknowledge the fear of failing to meet a wanted goal.
Stage 4. Come to terms with the immensity of the internal work to be done.

5. List the pros and cons of changing and inventory the forces working for and against change.
Stage 4. This is a rigorous and exhaustive accounting of personality and character traits.

6. Keep friends around; they lift your mood.
Stage 5. You need to have realistic and supportive feedback as progress takes place.

7. Break your goal down into small, specific, incremental steps.
Stages 6 and 9. Know what you want to change and make a plan.

8. Stay attuned to the dream; give yourself regular reminders of the goal.
Stage 11. Maintain your vision but stay focused on the immediate task at hand.

9. Align your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors with your goal; you might feel you’re faking it at first.
Stage 11. If you are confident that you are going in the right direction, proceeding is much easier.

10. Engage in any activity that boosts faith in yourself.
Stage 12. When you get to a place of giving, it becomes a continuous benefit to yourself.

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site reinventionentperprises.com or to acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/.

When do we know we’ve lost our humanity? – Authenticity

When the authenticity is gone from our commentary.

We are most believable when what we say is straight forward and not embellished.

This idea expressed is similar to a statement I heard from a friend many years ago. I noted in my book the need to separate the fact from fiction in our lives. The fiction is what is referred to as “social camouflage” and fact is our true identity.

“Just once I want to go to the masked ball, dressed only as myself, so no one will recognize me”.

In the past I often talked about authenticity but knew little of what it really was nor how to apply it in my life. Before I came to understand the great peace that exists in honesty, I felt compelled to portray myself as something I was not. The stress this caused was a real burden that I brought on myself without the awareness of what I was doing.

Exercises:

What image do I try to show others in order to control what they think about me? What are my inner-most feelings about the accuracy of this image?

These concepts are expressed in Stage 2 of the book.

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site reinventionentperprises.com or to acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/.

Why are we trying to be in control?

It seems like contemporary culture would have us constantly searching for change in our lives, to be better, to live better, to act better; but the question is, why? What are our underlying motivations for the change we seek in our life?
 
If our search for change comes from a place looking for acceptance and success, we may find ourselves never completely satisfied. Culture tends to look for change for this reason; the success. And while attaining a goal is indeed a great feeling, we can alternatively seek change from a place of humility to find sustainable satisfaction. If we constantly seek change for self-aggrandizement and the control to make the outcome we want come true, we are likely acting out of self-will, not humility.
 
Giving up control is one of the hardest, lessons that we must tackle as humans. Letting go may seem to be counter-intuitive and an insurmountable task. But sooner or later, that control does not bring the outcomes we seek or is not enough to satisfy what we desire. We find ourselves looking for change in all the wrong places and for all the wrong reasons. Instead, As stated in the book, “With a new approach, we come to recognize the uncontrollable complexity of situations…Surrender is acknowledging that our past impulsive actions were counterproductive and that a new attitudinal approach will yield better outcomes. It becomes clear that, without surrendering, change is difficult if not impossible.”
 
Follow on to read the related story on page 65 of A Process and continue on to complete related exercises beginning on page 72.

Exercises:
Have you ever experienced humility? If so describe the situation(s).

For more information on the concepts and methods of self-examination, please visit our web site reinventionentperprises.com or to acquire the book go to reinventionenterprises.com/the-process-book/

Why is gratitude going to change your life?

Have you ever noticed that when we find ourselves in a seemingly hopeless down spiral, one in which the path to happiness appears to be unreachable, it feels like everything is physically heavier? We might tend to sleep a little longer, move a little less, and every task is exhausting. The weight of the world can feel as though it is truly on our shoulders. Is it possible to bounce back from this feeling, to break the darkness with some light?

The answer is gratitude. Showing gratitude towards someone, or often times situations or even inanimate objects, can bring a literal “lightness” to you. Being happy and grateful for things brings to us a sort of inner joy that is able to poke holes of light into an otherwise solum time in our lives. The key, when we find ourselves in a long stretch of unhappiness, is to find things to constantly be grateful for. Even if these things seem little and minute, that light will truly begin to shine and take away some of your heaviness.

Try this:

Set an alarm for once a day. When this alarm goes off, tell yourself, out loud, three things that you are grateful for that day. These can be simple things like the coffee you were able to have this morning to larger things like the relationship you have with your partner. Whatever they are, tell yourself, out loud, that you are grateful for them.
The key to this exercise to do it everyday. Practice makes perfect. When we are able to show gratitude to even the most minor aspects of our day, it trains our brain to look for good in every situation.

Let’s start now. What are three things you are grateful for today?