Ben Bergeron is one of the top coaches in the CrossFit world. He has coached some of the world’s fittest athletes to victory. His approach, however, is strikingly different. Rather than proceeding straight to performance and strategy, Ben focuses on character.
“It starts,” Ben says, “with the development of the person, of the character traits necessary to achieve at a high level. These character traits ensemble my athletes to follow a rigorous process designed to utilize every minute of every day toward improvement and progress…Committing to a process requires a unique set of character traits–things like grit, resilience, accountability, confidence, optimism, perseverance, and passion. Without these traits, it’s impossible to follow a championship process, which is why character is the first thing I focus on.”
This focus on character first is immensely helpful. It sets you free from concerning yourself with all the things you’d typically distract. Things like missed reps, weaknesses, adversity and the performance of others. It helps you set your sights on the person you need to become in order to reach your goals.
Adversity is your friend and helper in this process. He comes alongside and pushes you onward. He forces you to rethink, retool, and redouble your efforts. He strengthens your character, your thinking, and your commitment. He offers you the opportunity to grow, mature, and learn.
Hardship is often cast in a negative light, a thing to avoid. It brings great pain into your life, and who wants that? But what if you saw beyond the pain? What if you learned to look for the opportunity inside every set back?
This is the message of the Stoics. These ancient philosophers thought deep thoughts, faced real hardship and produced a way of thinking about them that remains helpful to this day, Stoicism.
Such is the topic and message of The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday. The subtitle says it all, the timeless art of turning trails into triumph. No other words could capture so clearly the message of all 224 pages of this book. It is a masterstroke of helpful examples and instruction that prove the obstacle is indeed the way.
Bergeron recommends this book under the category of mindset on this episode of Chasing Excellence. Which is interesting on its own. One of the top coaches in the world sets aside an entire category of books focused on mindset. How you think is important. Important enough for a dedicated category of reading and learning.
What goes in your mind is something you control. You get to choose the fuel you feed your mind. No one else can force their ideas down upon you. No, you get the final say in the matter. Even if everything else is taken from you, you still remain in utter control of your mind.
Why not leverage this reality to make you resilient in the face of challenges?
Why not use it to teach yourself to see the opportunity wrapped in difficulty?
Challenges will come your way in life. They are one constant to the human experience. All face hardship and difficulty. Instead of allowing it to distract and disrupt your progress, make it work for you.
This is the gift Ryan Holiday offers you in this spellbinding read. To gift to smile in the face of adversity. The gift to see opportunity in every trial. The gift to see all of life as a chance to do your best.
Ryan opens with a few lines for the writing of Marcus Aurelius. These simple yet profound words inspire the heart and kick the mind into gear. I leave them with you here in hopes that you are drawn to them. And that in drawing near you pick up the book and read:
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 purposes the obstacle to our actions. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” - Marcus Aurelius