Many obstacles come our way in life. Oftentimes, these obstacles illicit within us feelings of fear, frustrations, confusion, anger, helplessness, and depression. But what if embedded within these obstacles are opportunities specifically designed for our benefits. What if what impedes us can actually empower us to do and become who we want to become. What if the obstacle is the way—the path to the life that we have asked for?
Ryan Holiday tells the story of an ancient king who conducted an experiment on his subjects to illustrate this point:
There was a king who wanted to test the resolve of his subjects and teach them a lesson in the process. To do this, this king placed a huge boulder at the gate of his city to block the main entrance to the city. He hid nearby to observe how his subjects would react to the boulder that stood in their way.
Many of his subjects approached the city, saw the boulder, complained and cursed the king, and left. Some attempted to push the boulder out of their way, but after a few unsuccessful attempts, they gave up and walked away.
Finally, a poor man approached the city. He saw the boulder in his way but he did not turn away. Instead, he was determined to enter the city. After a few unsuccessful attempts, he finally came up with a creative way to dislodge this massive rock that stood in his way.
And what he found underneath the boulder changed his life.
He found a large sum of money and a personal note from the king that read:
“The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.”
To this poor man, the obstacle that stood in his way became his way out of poverty.
This book is inspired by stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote :
“Our actions may be impeded . . . but there can be no impeding our intentions or dispositions. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purpose the obstacle to our action. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
The story of the king and his subject represents the way opportunities are presented to us in lives sometimes. The situations that seem beyond our control, the obstacles, and the never-ending challenges, all have embedded within them an opportunity to co-create the life we have asked for. This book will help you understand how your obstacles can be an opportunity for growth, creativity, and innovation.