Tag Archive | The Obstacle


Distinguish between rational fears, with real consequences, and irrational fears, where there really aren’t any consequences. (Tim Ferris)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“How can I become antifragile?”

Aim not just for courage, but fearlessness.

“Isn’t fear useful? It keeps us alive.”

Some fears are useful; most fears are useless. Useless fears are irrational. Useless fears are the main obstacle that keeps you from reaching your potential.

Whenever you experience fear, ask yourself:

Is this a useful or a useless fear?

Every time you identify a useless fear, practice fearlessness.”

Obstacle Immunity

The outer obstacle is an illusion. The inner obstacle is all there is.

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

How can I achieve what Joe de Senna calls ‘obstacle immunity’?

Obstacle immunity is Antifragility. It is not a state, but a process, an endless practice.

Realize that the real obstacle is always within yourself. The real obstacle is your perceptions and emotions.

We view reality through a filter of meaning. Perception is interpretation. The interpretation produces the emotional response. The emotional response shapes your behavior, and with it, the trajectory of your life.

Obstacle immunity is perception mastery and emotional mastery.

Perception mastery is meaning mastery – the capacity to see the poetry in any and everything –, and attention mastery – the capacity to optimally direct attention.

Emotional mastery is recovery mastery – the capacity to return to tranquility/stillness from any point.

The Obstacle is the Way 5

Be uncomfortable every day of your life. (David Goggins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

Discomfort is a need.

It is fundamental for growth. Without discomfort, without venturing outside the limits of your comfort zone, it is impossible to grow.

Discomfort is a practice.

It is fundamental for maintaining growth. Unused capacities atrophy. To have a capacity forever, you must practice it forever.

Daily exposure to discomfort increases your capacity to tolerate – and even enjoy – discomfort.”

“How do you practice discomfort?”

“I do some form of intense physical activity every day. The practice is to push past the point when my body signals me to stop.

I take a cold shower every day. The practice is to calm myself using the breath.

I do breath-holds throughout the day. The practice is to calm myself mentally, without using the breath.

I frequently do Parkour challenges which expose me to fear.”

“How about expanding it in the sphere of the social?”

“That’s something I’m building up to. Strangely, I find it more difficult than all the previous ones combined.”

Challenge as Guide

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I have two options that are equally attractive. Which one should I choose?”

The more challenging one.

“Didn’t you use Beauty as the guide [<link; short length]?”

“I do. In my view, Beauty is a rich and nuanced model. Challenge is one aspect of it.

Another way to think of challenge is as a metaphoric obstacle.”

“The Obstacle is the Way?”

“Yes. Or, to put it differently:

The Obstacle SHOWS the Way.

Beautiful Models: Meta-Practice

Fragment from imaginary dialogues

“What is meta-practice?”

“It is a higher-order practice. 

It can refer to an instance of hierarchization, creating a practical hierarchical relationship between two or more practices.”

“Another kind of stacking?”

“Yes. It’s basically stacking where order matters.

For instance let’s take Movement and Embodiment. By creating a hierarchical relationship between them, 


you’re integrating them into one practice, clarifying your focus, and establishing guidelines. Embodiment here is the meta-practice, a metaphoric lens through which you view the Movement practice. Movement as Embodiment practice.

Meta-Practice can refer to an instance of generalization, practically expanding in scope from the particular to the general.

Every obstacle you encounter is a practice – learning how to effectively deal with that particular obstacle.
Every obstacle can also be a meta-practice – learning how to effectively deal with any obstacles. You’re not just practicing one thing, but all things similar. I like to call obstacles seen as a whole, the Obstacle.”

“Another instance of integration?”

“Indeed. We might call this model generalization / integration.

The meta-practice is having the insight to focus on the Obstacle, not just the obstacle.

The Art of Perception 4

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Every obstacle is a Gift.”

“It’s easy to say that in hindsight.

The Art is seeing/feeling it in the moment.”


Make every obstacle an anchor that connects you to the universe of Meaning.

With every obstacle, practice SEEING the Macro in the Micro [<link; medium read].

Turning obstacles upside down 2

Flow with whatever may happen, and let your mind be free: Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing. This is the ultimate. (Chuang Tzu)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I woke up in an unresourceful state again.”

“How does that make you feel?”



“It messes with my morning practice.”

“So it messes with an expectation for things to be in a certain way.”

“I guess it does.”

“What’s in your control?”

How I RESPOND to it.

“NEVER forget that.

What’s the best response?”

Inversion[<link; medium read].

The Obstacle is the Way.

“That’s the spirit.

Let go of expectations.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, that BECOMES your practice.

Embrace it. 
Give it your full attention.

Turn every obstacle into MEDITATION.

Every obstacle is ALL obstacles.

Every obstacle is a potential Evolution-Point.

Whenever you encounter an obstacle, EVOLVE.

Beautiful Models: Inversion

Inversion is a powerful tool to improve your thinking because it helps you identify and remove obstacles to success. The root of inversion is “invert,” which means to upend or turn upside down. As a thinking tool it means approaching a situation from the opposite end of the natural starting point. Most of us tend to think one way about a problem: forward. Inversion allows us to flip the problem around and think backward. Sometimes it’s good to start at the beginning, but it can be more useful to start at the end. (Shane Parrish)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Inversion is one of my favorite mental models. As it’s commonly thought of, it means ‘thinking backwards’, focusing on the opposite of what you want.

For instance, instead of asking ‘How can I succeed?’, asking, ‘How can I fail?‘”

“So focusing on the obstacles to success.”

“Yes. That however is but one application of the model. Inversion is a multi-purpose tool.”

“What’s the essence of the model?”

Metaphorically changing something into its opposite.

The change can be directional.

One example of this is wonderfully expressed by Ryan Holiday:

The Obstacle is the Way
The Art of Turning Obstacles Upside Down

Turning obstacles upside down is an instance of Inversion.

Upside down‘ here is what I call a directional metaphoric model.

Expressed as directional metaphoric models, the examples so far look like this:

Forward/Backward: Thinking backwards, rather than forwards.
Towards/Away-from: Moving towards obstacles, rather than away from them.

The latter can also be expressed using a different model:

Confront/Avoid: Confronting/Facing obstacles, rather than avoiding them.

The change can be substantive.

Changing one thing into another. The metaphoric model I like to use to describe it is Transmutation.

For instance:
Turning a negative into a positive.
Turning weakness into strength.

Another example is Nassim Taleb’s Antifragility model: thriving not in spite of obstacles, but because of them. Turning obstacles into fuel for your growth.

The change can be instrumental.

Changing between the two poles of a dichotomy. I like to call this Perspective Shifting. And the dichotomy can be artificially created for practical ends. When you see me use the pattern

model3 = model1/model2

that’s often a practical dichotomy.

Here Inversion is used as a meta-model.”

“What’s a meta-model?”

“In this context, a meta-model is a higher-order model that allows you to perform operations on other models, thus expanding their use.

For instance, joining two models to create a dichotomy – model which we could call Dichotomization – is a meta-model.

Similarly, switching back and forth between the two poles of a dichotomy – Inversion – is also a meta-model.”

Weird rituals

Be your unapologetically weird self. (Chris Sacca)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“Do you have any weird rituals?”

“Oh, yes.”

“Tell me one.”

“I have a ritual of kissing my tattoos.

(The Obstacle is the Way [<link; short length] on my left forearm, and Connections on the right forearm)

It’s a symbolic act.

I’m kissing my beautiful BodyMind, which I’m deeply grateful for, and consider sacred.

And I’m kissing the ideas the tattoos express. Those are deep ideas which encode my entire life philosophy and system of thought.”

The Obstacle is the Way 4

Life happens FOR me not to me. (Tony Robbins)

Fragments from imaginary dialogues

“I remember the first time I read this quote. It didn’t make sense. All I could think of were counter-examples.”

“Did it start making sense?”

“I’ve since realized that man is a Creator of Meaning.

There’s a concept I like a lot from Alan Watts, what he called ‘axioms of living‘, an implicit set of rules and assumptions that guide our life. As a side note, I’ve expanded the concept to include what I called ‘axioms of being‘, implicit metaphysical assumptions about the nature of reality.

Even if the quote did not make sense back then, I realized there’s a huge potential in it. I realized how powerful it would be if integrated as an axiom of living.”

“Did you manage to realize that potential?”

“To a large extent, yes.”


“EVERY challenge we face in life can be metaphorically viewed as an obstacle.

EVERY obstacle is an opportunity to learn and grow.

We NEED obstacles in order to grow and realize our potential. Obstacles are ESSENTIAL.

In Ryan Holiday’s words, ‘The Obstacle is the Way‘. This has become one of my central axioms of living, which I now have tattooed on my left forearm.

Obstacles are essential to our growth, and life constantly presents us with obstacles. I choose to believe that life presents us with obstacles SO THAT we may grow. This has become another of my central axioms of living.

With this axiom in place, EVERY obstacle becomes a Gift, something to be profoundly grateful for.

Can you see how powerful this can be?”