From A-to-Z thinkers to A-B-Y-Z thinkers

This is book is about people who are not intimidated by obstacles. They give everything they have, mentally and physically, and even though they may or may not have overcome the obstacle in they way they intended, each individual emerged better and stronger

कर्मण्येवाधिकारस्ते मा फलेषु कदाचन |
मा कर्मफलहेतुर्भूर्मा ते सङ्गोऽस्त्वकर्मणि || 47 ||

You have a right to perform your prescribed duties, but you are not entitled to the fruits of your actions. Never consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities, nor be attached to inaction. – Bhagavad Gita: Chapter 2, Verse 47

I was reminded of this shloka from Bhagavad Gita, when I was reading this book. Although, most of the stories in the book  The Obstacle is the Way: The Ancient Art of Turning Trials into Triumph are from American Presidents/ successful people’s lives.

The book is divided into 3 parts – Perception, Action and Will. It talks about changing your attitude, performing action, and accepting the results ( conditions you had ). Focus is on obstacle or crisis, it is when real leaders emerge. As Andy Grove is quoted ” Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” First part deals with the stories of how great men ( mostly, except Amelia Earhart ) had a positive attitude towards the obstacles.

Second part is about action. Explained with number of examples as “while overpaid CEO is taking long vacations, some programmer is working eighteen hour days coding the start-up that will destroy that CEO’s business”. This part is more about persistence and perseverance. Some of the other quotes from this part:

” Because when you play all the way to the whistle, there’s no reason to worry about the clock. “

“We are A-to-Z thinkers, fretting over A, obsessing over Z, yet forgetting all about B through Y.” ( Reminds of Amazon logo )

Strategy finds mention in this part, military strategy to be precise, and the book Strategy by Liddell Hart is quoted about Flank Attack and indirect approach.

Third part, Will, is one thing that the individual can control completely. One can mitigate harmful perceptions, and give 100 percent energy to actions, still one may not expect results as intended. Will however, is different, because it is within the individual. Will keeps one going, even when worst nightmares come true. Author talks about the spiritual aspect in this part. He talks about Inner Citadel which the Jews practice. As through out the book, different great men’s life stories are given ( Rockefeller, Steve Jobs, Eisenhower, Barack Obama, Washington, Lincoln, Edison to name a few )

The book overall tries to give a formula for success, giving examples from successful people’s lives. As with all self help books, practicing the formula, and making it our own, is our responsibility. It works differently for everyone. It is the age old formula, given in a new way.