As LinkedIn’s vice president of global talent acquisition Brendan Browne told Business Insider, drastic ups and downs are just part of being at a fast-moving company. It’s why he thinks “grit and resiliency are everything.”
And that’s why, as the head of recruiting for the company’s 10,000 global employees, he has often recommended or gifted to new managers Ryan Holiday’s 2015 book “The Obstacle Is the Way,” an easy-to-read and practical introduction to Stoic philosophy.
Browne explained that tensions between colleagues in any organization often arise when one hides problems until they can no longer be ignored. He said that he recommends the book with the intention of instilling the idea that difficulties that arise should not be feared or ignored, but immediately embraced.
“It’s a quick read and I think it’s just so universally applicable because it backs … the idea that you could feel like you’re struggling but that’s actually the normal pace of things,” Browne said. “And if we can all tune ourselves to that, we’ll probably all be better off.”
For five key takeaways from”The Obstacle Is the Way,” we went straight to author Ryan Holiday. Below, find five lessons distilled from his book, in Holiday’s own words:
1. Obstacles provide opportunities for growth
“Two thousand years ago, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius — then the most powerful man on earth — sat down to write himself a note, likely in response to some frustrating people he was dealing with. In that note, he told himself that their frustration was actually an opportunity for him to practice virtue.
“He reminded himself: ‘The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.’ Basically, everything that happens to us is a chance to practice excellence — even if its not in the form we originally intended. That’s why the ‘obstacle is the way.’”
2. Our perception of the world dictates our actions
“The essence of Stoic philosophy is distilled into three disciplines: Perception, Action, Will. How we think about things, What we do about them, and How we accept or endure that which we cannot change.”
3. It is necessary to accept that which we cannot change
“The key to successful action is making the distinction between what you control and what you do not control. Indeed, ancient Greek philosopher Epictetus says that this is our chief task in life.
“Separating the two is essential for being effective — when you eliminate worrying about, thinking about, scheming about the things outside your control (other people’s opinion, the weather, the market), it frees you up to focus 100% on what you do control (your actions, you emotions, your responses).”
4. How you do anything is how you do everything
“There is a line from Rolls-Royce cofounder Sir Henry Royce that he had engraved on his mantle: ‘Whatever rightly done, however humble, is noble.’ The Stoics were big on duty.
“They believed the idea that how you do anything is how you do everything. It doesn’t matter if you’re just starting out in an internship, if you’re making smoothies to pay for your clothing line, or if you’re the executive of a Fortune 500 company. Every task should be treated as essential. Everything should be done right.”
5. Embrace your fate
“The story of Thomas Edison’s factory burning down at age 67 illustrates the Stoic lesson of amor fati — a love of our fate. Edison’s entire life’s work went up in flames. As he watched the fire consume it all, he turned to his son and said, ‘Go get your mother and all her friends, they’ll never see a fire like this again.’ He was actually embracing this terrible thing that happened to him.
“He told a reporter the next day that he’d been through difficulty like this before and the upside was that it ‘prevents a man from being afflicted with ennui.’ He took a million-dollar loan from Henry Ford and rebuilt the operation and had it going again in a matter of weeks.”