We Wish You Bad Luck! The Obstacle Is The Way :)
All of us are excited to embark upon the new year, full of promise and goals and great things to come. But – it is extremely important to remember that all will not go well, as such is life. And some things will go horribly awry.
And horrible things are often the best things that can happen to us.
I thought of this recently on a couple of occasions.
Chief Justice John Roberts Wishes Bad Luck On 9th Graders
In his commencement speech at his son’s 9th-grade graduation, Chief Justice, John Roberts, told the kids that he hoped they would be lonely, be treated unfairly, and suffer betrayals, among other things. He was making the point that kids can only learn the importance of many things from misfortune. The speech had other messages, and I highly recommend reading it (and sharing it with your kids).
The Obstacle Is the Way
The other thing that reminded me of the importance of bad things was a recent book summary from Nikko Saenz in our office (for our JVM Book and Podcast Club). Nikko summarized Ryan Holiday’s short and excellent book The Obstacle Is the Way.
I don’t just recommend this book, I am practically insisting that you read it.
The book is fun to read b/c it is full of great stories about the obstacles that famous people have faced and how they dealt with them, e.g. Ulysses S. Grant, Steve Jobs, George Washington, etc. But the book’s bigger message is the importance of stoicism.
1. Perception. See things as they are – neither as good or bad. Know that that nothing makes us feel a certain way, but that we choose to give in to certain feelings.
2. Action. No matter what happens – get moving, keep moving, don’t give up, and do your best. Genius is just persistence in disguise.
3. Will. “Will” is to make the best of a terrible situation that we tried to prevent but could not. Evaluate adversity calmly and objectively and figure out what you can learn from it.
I am hardly doing this excellent book justice with this short summary, so I will once again just encourage everyone to read it.
I often mention in this blog how JVM struggled for several years and one of the many reasons was our inability to respond to adversity calmly and objectively. We often felt victimized and lashed out, causing even more harm.
It was only after we learned to respond more objectively from adversity that our fortunes changed, and Mr. Holiday’s book was a big factor behind that mind-change.
Anyway – be excited for 2018 and expect great things, but also expect things to go horribly wrong. And – be ready to learn.
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