I was embarrassed into action! My pastor buddy, Bryan Myers, emailed me wondering what I thought of a book. I was confused until he reminded me that he had sent me the book as a gift. That’s when I went on a search and found it at the bottom of the stack of books on my study floor! The book was entitled: The Obstacle Is The Way - The Ancient Art of Turning Adversity To Advantage, by Ryan Holiday.
The search for the book catapulted me into the action of re-organizing my entire library! In addition, I not only started reading it but finished it as the coronavirus forced me into settling down. That’s just one of the many good things that has come my way in recent days.
So, how is the coronavirus catapulting you? Many of the leaders I coach and connect with are celebrating some of the ways that our new reality of social distancing and working from home has been catalytic. I just overheard my wife on a Zoom call with her small group gals remarking, “My house has never been so clean!” And that came out of the mouth of “Mrs. Clean” herself!
On a recent Zoom call I mentioned the book that had so blessed me to some of my business buddies. Doug said: “O yeah, last year I gave that to my entire team!” Obviously it’s great for those facing challenges in business, but then again, we’re all facing challenges in the business of life. While the bulk of the book is rooted in Stoicism, not Christianity, it certainly speaks to followers of Christ as well, more on that in a moment.
Here are just a few of the highlights:
- … Marcus Aurelius clearly defined and articulated a timeless idea … The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.
- Making certain that what impedes us can empower us.
- Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.
- The obstacle in the path becomes the path. Never forget, within every obstacle is an opportunity to improve our condition.
- … there are many things that can pull you into the present moment: Strenuous exercise. Unplugging. A walk in the park. Meditation. Getting a dog - they’re a constant reminder of how pleasant the present is.
- General Dwight D. Eisenhower made an announcement: He’d have no more of this quivering timidity from his deflated generals. ‘The present situation is to be regarded as an opportunity for us and not disaster,’ he commanded. ‘There will be only cheerful faces at this conference table.’
- We forget: In life, it doesn’t matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with what happens and what you’ve been given.
- ‘This too shall pass’ was Lincoln’s favorite saying, one he once said was applicable in any and every situation he encountered.
- Lend a hand to others. Be strong for them, and it will make you stronger.
- The obstacle is not only turned upside down but used as a catapult.
So, what are you learning right now? Writing from a prison cell in a season of uncertainty, the apostle Paul said: “… for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:11-13 NIV)
If Paul could be content while in confinement and even use his condition as a catapult, I wonder how you and I might too.