Ryan Holiday strikes again as his third book of the trilogy has finally hit the stores. The much-celebrated author, entrepreneur, and marketer has published bestsellers such as Conspiracy, Trust Me I’m Lying, Growth Hacker Marketing, The Daily Stoic and not to forget his generation-defining classics on the ancient stoic philosophy, which has finally reached the end of its trilogy.
Ryan’s fascination and love for the ancient stoic philosophy began when he was an associate for the famous author Robert Greene, who wrote classics such as the 48 Laws of Power, The 50th Law, The Art of Seduction and Mastery.
Robert Greene’s books have a peculiar way of diving into ancient history, exploring into the lives of the iconic figures such as Napolean, Cleopatra, Leonardo Da Vinci and various other personalities of the past and extracting out wisdom from them.
While working as an associate for Greene, Ryan had to sit with a pile of history books and research on them. We can often find how Greene mentions how hardworking Ryan was, in his interviews.
Supposedly while going through volumes of historical texts, Ryan stumbled through the ancient wisdom of The Stoic Philosophy. Not to confuse with the ‘stoicism’ with the lowercase ‘s’, which according to the American Psychological Association connotes bottling up one’s feelings.
(I still don’t understand why they would use a word which describes the philosophy of achieving a calmer mind being used to connote something toxic, even though it’s in lowercase. It is quite misleading)
It isn’t hard to see that this ancient philosophy is catching popularity as entrepreneurs such as Tim Ferriss, Arianna Huffington and Robert Greene seems to be following the wisdom of Stoicism. Even historically, Nelson Mandela and Winston Churchill loved the philosophy of Stoicism.
It is being used in sports for mental resilience and as an operating system for maximum performance in high-stress environments. The ancient philosophy of Stoicism was started in 3 B.C. by Zeno of Citium.
The philosophy underlines the facts that the path to Eudaimonia (best-translated fulfilment) is by following the course of nature, which is, to accept the moment how it presents itself. It suggests that our reality is created by our perceptions and our perceptions are within our control. Therefore, most of our reality is within our sphere of control.
“Choose not to be harmed—and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed—and you haven’t been.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Ancient Stoic Emperor
The Obstacle Is The Way
Taking the wisdom from famous ancient Stoics such as Marcus Aurelius, Seneca, Epictetus and modern thinkers, Ryan Holiday published the first volume of his trilogy Obstacle Is The Way. This book is based on Stoic exercises of reframing setbacks, failures, mishappenings as opportunities.
“To prevent becoming overwhelmed by the world around us, we must, as the ancients practised, learn how to limit our passions and their control over our lives. It takes skill and discipline to bat away the pests of bad perceptions, to separate reliable signals from deceptive ones, to filter out prejudice, expectation, and fear. But it’s worth it, for what’s left is the truth. While others are excited or afraid, we will remain calm and imperturbable. We will see things simply and straightforwardly, as they truly are—neither good nor bad.”
– Ryan Holiday, Obstacle is The Way
Ego Is The Enemy
The second in the series is Ego Is The Enemy. In the previous book, he had mentioned about the exercises and tactics to overcome obstacles in the external. What if the biggest obstacle is within us? In his second book, he discusses how self-absorption and selfishness cloud our judgment and is detrimental to our flourishment.
“A true student is like a sponge. Absorbing what goes on around him, filtering it, latching on to what he can hold. A student is self-critical and self-motivated, always trying to improve his understanding so that he can move on to the next topic, the next challenge. A real student is also his own teacher and his own critic. There is no room for ego there.”
– Ryan Holiday, Ego Is The Enemy
Stillness Is The Key
In his final volume of the trilogy, Holiday dives into the Eastern philosophy and extracts out wisdom from The Bhagavad Gita, Buddha’s Teachings, The Koran and The Western Philosophy to explain the reader about the importance of being still.
In this Attention Economy, when there are constant distraction and noise coming at us all of the time, it becomes imperative for one to find calmness within oneself because calmness cannot be found elsewhere but within us. It becomes a skill that we must master in order to find time to think, to do meaningful work and unlock the path to fulfilment.
“The trackless woods. A quiet child, lying on her belly, reading a book. The clouds cutting over the wing of an airplane, its exhausted passengers all asleep. A man reading in his seat. A woman sleeping. A stewardess resting her feet. The rosy fingertips of dawn coming up over the mountain. A song on repeat. That song’s beat, lining up exactly with the rhythm of events as we walk down the street. The pleasure of getting an assignment in before a deadline, the temporary quiet of an empty inbox. This is stillness.”
— Ryan Holiday, Stillness Is The Key