I stumbled upon Ryan Holiday’s book The Obstacle is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumphs via a sports blog – another testament to the notion that you can find inspiration in a variety of venues.
Holiday’s book builds on the teachings of the stoics. An overview of the stoics can be found here. Holiday roles these teachings into everyday life for everyday people…all people. For me it boils down to this simple fact – the only thing preventing us from conquering our objectives is ourselves. Overcoming obstacles , or getting ‘unstuck’ is really about mindset.
How you ask?!?
Perspective – every obstacle is actually an opportunity to learn and/or build skills. It’s all about your perception.
The work of a Dutch teenager is a great example of perspective. Using the vastness and power of the ocean as an advantage instead of an obstacle gives me hope that effectively managing the ever evolving mobile technology in a school is doable. We keep trying – it’ll happen.
Action – Holiday states that often the only wrong course of action is to do nothing. Unless doing nothing is a chosen course of action. Essentially while you wait, others are acting and learning from their successes and failures – passing you by. The old adage ‘Fortune favours the bold’ comes to mind.
For me the pursuit of a modern learning environment that amplifies student voice is a great example of how a school can collectively take action. We saw an intersection of policy, pedagogy and engagement and began down a path. We are still a work in progress (as I think by definition every truly modern learning environment should be) but we are certainly further down the path than we would have been had we chosen to wait. The capacity within the school regarding the nuts and bolts of modern learning and how to effectively integrate edtech within a program have grown dramatically. Persistence will continue to drive us toward future successes.
Will – You have to stick with it. Seems simple but again Holiday asks us to come at this from another angle. To not only love everything about what goes right but also about what goes wrong. And be ready – because things will go wrong. It’s a lot more inspiring in the book.
I heard an interview with Gord Downie in which he stated that it wasn’t about your successes but how much fun you have failing. Seems to perfectly sum up what Holiday is hoping for us to embrace. If you want to do see this in action within a school head to a maker space, InquiryStudio, shop class or anywhere students have choice and ownership. You’ll see them plugging away at the same task again and again because they are enjoying what they do – will comes easy when you’re having fun.
Holiday’s book is a great read for anyone looking for a way to break through an obstacle big or small.