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Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller & Wall Street Journal Bestseller

In The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego Is the Enemy, bestselling author Ryan Holiday made ancient wisdom wildly popular with a new generation of leaders in sports, politics, and technology. In his new book, Stillness Is the Key, Holiday draws on timeless Stoic and Buddhist philosophy to show why slowing down is the secret weapon for those charging ahead.


All great leaders, thinkers, artists, athletes, and visionaries share one indelible quality. It enables them to conquer their tempers. To avoid distraction and discover great insights. To achieve happiness and do the right thing. Ryan Holiday calls it stillness--to be steady while the world spins around you.

In this book, he outlines a path for achieving this ancient, but urgently necessary way of living. Drawing on a wide range of history''s greatest thinkers, from Confucius to Seneca, Marcus Aurelius to Thich Nhat Hanh, John Stuart Mill to Nietzsche, he argues that stillness is not mere inactivity, but the doorway to self-mastery, discipline, and focus.

Holiday also examines figures who exemplified the power of stillness: baseball player Sadaharu Oh, whose study of Zen made him the greatest home run hitter of all time; Winston Churchill, who in balancing his busy public life with time spent laying bricks and painting at his Chartwell estate managed to save the world from annihilation in the process; Fred Rogers, who taught generations of children to see what was invisible to the eye; Anne Frank, whose journaling and love of nature guided her through unimaginable adversity.

More than ever, people are overwhelmed. They face obstacles and egos and competition. Stillness Is the Key offers a simple but inspiring antidote to the stress of 24/7 news and social media. The stillness that we all seek is the path to meaning, contentment, and excellence in a world that needs more of it than ever.

Review

“In this age of manufactured outrage and constant distraction, the ability to choose a focused inner stillness is arguably more important than ever before. Ryan Holiday’s book revives ancient wisdom that calls for a quiet life in a noisy and restless world.” 
—Mark Manson, #1 bestselling author of The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck

"The next Malcolm Gladwell. Ryan Holiday''s just brilliant."
—Lance Armstrong

“Whether you are an athlete, an investor, a writer or an entrepreneur, this little but wise and soulful book will open the door to a healthier, less anxious and more productive life and career.”
—Arianna Huffington

“Some authors give advice. Ryan Holiday distills wisdom. This book is a must read for anyone feeling overwhelmed by the frenetic demands of modern life."
—Cal Newport, New York Times bestselling author of Digital Minimalism

“Don’t be fooled. Within the pages of this unassuming little book lie a life-changing idea: that in order to move forward, we must learn to be still. Ryan Holiday has done it again.”
—Sophia Amoruso, Co-Founder & CEO, Girlboss

“This short and entertaining book provides useful tools and captivating examples on how to keep a healthy, clutter-free and productive mind.
—Manu Ginobili, four time NBA champion and Olympic Gold Medalist

"Ryan Holiday is among the most psychologically wise writers I know. I''m a fan of all of his work, including this new gem, Stillness is the Key. If you struggle—as I do—to find your center in the increasingly noisy and frenetic world we live in, then this book is for you."
—Angela Duckworth, bestselling author of Grit

“In the world today the dangers are many—most notably, the endless distractions and petty battles that make us act without purpose or direction. In this book, through his masterful synthesis of Eastern and Western philosophy, Ryan Holiday teaches us all how to maintain our focus and presence of mind amid the sometimes overwhelming conflicts and troubles of 21st-century life.”
—Robert Greene

“Ryan Holiday is one of the brilliant writers and minds of our time. In Stillness is the Key he gives us the blueprint to clear our minds, recharge our souls and reclaim our power.”
—Jon Gordon, author of The Energy Bus

“Highly recommended. Great read.”
—CJ McCollum, Portland Trailblazers

"Ryan Holiday is a national treasure and a master in the field of self-mastery. In his most compelling book yet, he has mined both the classical literature of the ancient world and cultural touchstones from Mister Rogers to Tiger Woods, and brought his learnings to us in terms that the frantic, distracted, over-caffeinated modern mind can understand and put to use. Highly recommended."
—Steven Pressfield, bestselling author of The War of Art and The Artist''s Journey

“A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.”
—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Ryan Holiday is one of the world''s foremost thinkers and writers on ancient philosophy and its place in everyday life. He is a sought-after speaker, strategist, and the author of many bestselling books including The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; and The Daily Stoic. His books have been translated into over 30 languages and read by over two million people worldwide. He lives outside Austin, Texas, with his family.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Domain of the Mind

 

The entire world changed in the few short hours between when John F. Kennedy went to bed on October 15, 1962, and when he woke up the following morning. 

Because while the president slept, the CIA identified the ongoing construction of medium- and long-range Soviet ballistic nuclear missile sites on the island of Cuba, just ninety miles from American shores. As Kennedy would tell a stunned American public days later, "Each of these missiles is capable of striking Washington, D.C., the Panama Canal, Cape Canaveral, Mexico City, or any other city in the southeastern part of the United States, in Central America, or in the Caribbean."

 

 

As Kennedy received his first briefing on what we now know as the Cuban Missile Crisis-or simply as the Thirteen Days-the president could consider only the appalling stakes. As many as seventy million people were expected to die in the first strikes between the United States and Russia. But that was just a guess-no one actually knew how terrible nuclear war would be.

 

What Kennedy knew for certain was that he faced an unprecedented escalation of the long-brewing Cold War between the United States and the USSR. And whatever factors had contributed to its creation, no matter how inevitable war must have appeared, it fell on him, at the very least, to just not make things worse. Because it might mean the end of life on planet Earth.

 

Kennedy was a young president born into immense privilege, raised by an aggressive father who hated to lose, in a family whose motto, they joked, was "Don''t Get Mad, Get Even." With almost no executive leadership experience under his belt, it''s not a surprise, then, that the first year and half of Kennedy''s administration had not gone well.

 

In April 1961, Kennedy had tried and failed-embarrassingly so-to invade Cuba and overthrow Fidel Castro at the Bay of Pigs. Just a few months later, he was diplomatically dominated by Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev in a series of meetings in Vienna. (Kennedy would call it the "roughest thing in my life.") Sensing his adversary''s political weakness, and likely aware of the chronic physical frailty he endured from Addison''s disease and back injuries suffered during World War II, Khrushchev repeatedly lied to Kennedy about any weapons being placed in Cuba, insisting that they would be for defensive purposes only.

 

Which is to say that Kennedy faced, as every leader will at some point in their tenure, a difficult crisis amid complicating personal and political circumstances. There were many questions: Why would Khrushchev do this? What was his endgame? What was the man possibly trying to accomplish? Was there a way to solve it? What did Kennedy''s advisors think? What were Kennedy''s options? Was he up to this task? Did he have what it took?

 

The fate of millions depended on his answers.

 

The advice from Kennedy''s advisors was immediate and emphatic: The missile sites must be destroyed with the full might of the country''s military arsenal. Every second wasted risked the safety and the reputation of the United States. After the surprise attack on the missiles, a full-scale invasion of Cuba by American troops would need to follow. This, they said, was not only more than justified by the actions of the USSR and Cuba, but it was Kennedy''s only option.

 

Their logic was both primal and satisfying: Aggression must be met with aggression.

Tit replied to with tat.

 

The only problem was that if their logic turned out to be wrong, no one would be around to account for their mistake. Because everyone would be dead.

 

Unlike in the early days of his presidency, when Kennedy allowed the CIA to pressure him into supporting the Bay of Pigs fiasco, this time he surprised everyone by pushing back. He had recently read Barbara Tuchman''s The Guns of August, a book about the beginning of World War I, which imprinted on his mind the image of overconfident world leaders rushing their way into a conflict that, once started, they couldn''t stop. Kennedy wanted everyone to slow down so that they could really think about the problem in front of them.

 

This is, in fact, the first obligation of a leader and a decision maker. Our job is not to "go with our gut" or fixate on the first impression we form about an issue. No, we need to be strong enough to resist thinking that is too neat, too plausible, and therefore almost always wrong. Because if the leader can''t take the time to develop a clear sense of the bigger picture, who will? If the leader isn''t thinking through all the way to the end, who is?

 

We can see in Kennedy''s handwritten notes taken during the crisis, a sort of meditative process by which he tried to do precisely this. On numerous pages, he writes "Missile. Missile. Missile," or "Veto. Veto. Veto. Veto," or "Leaders. Leaders. Leaders." On one page, showing his desire to not act alone or selfishly: "Consensus. Consensus. Consensus. Consensus. Consensus. Consensus." On a yellow legal pad during one meeting, Kennedy drew two sailboats, calming himself with thoughts of the ocean he loved so much. Finally, on White House stationery, as if to clarify to himself the only thing that mattered, he wrote one short sentence: "We are demanding withdrawal of the missiles."

 

Perhaps it was there, as Kennedy sat with his advisors and doodled, that he remembered a passage from another book he''d read, by the strategist B. H. Liddell Hart, on nuclear strategy. In Kennedy''s review of Hart''s book for the Saturday Review of Literature a few years before, he quoted this passage:

 

Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent, and always assist him to save face. Put yourself in his shoes-so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil-nothing is so self-blinding.

 

It became Kennedy''s motto during the Missile Crisis. "I think we ought to think of why the Russians did this," he told his advisors. What is the advantage they are trying to get? he asked, with real interest. "Must be some major reason for the Soviets to set this up." As Arthur Schlesinger Jr., Kennedy''s advisor and biographer, wrote, "With his capacity to understand the problems of others, the President could see how threatening the world might have looked to the Kremlin."

 

This understanding would help him respond properly to this unexpected and dangerous provocation-and give him insight into how the Soviets would react to that response.

 

It became clear to Kennedy that Khrushchev put the missiles in Cuba because he believed Kennedy was weak. But that didn''t mean the Russians believed their own position was particularly strong. Only a desperate nation would take such a risk, Kennedy realized. Armed with this insight, which came through long discussions with his team-designated as ExComm-he began to formulate an action plan.

 

Clearly, a military strike was the most irrevocable of all the options (nor, according to his advisors, was it likely to be 100 percent effective). What would happen after that, Kennedy wondered? How many soldiers would die in an invasion? How would the world respond to a larger country invading a smaller one, even if it was to deter a nuclear threat? What would the Russians do to save face or protect their soldiers on the island?

 

These questions pointed Kennedy toward a blockade of Cuba. Nearly half of his advisors opposed this less aggressive move, but he favored it precisely because it preserved his options.

 

It also embodied the wisdom of one of Kennedy''s favorite expressions: A blockade used time as a tool. It gave both sides a chance to examine the stakes of the crisis and offered Khrushchev the opportunity to reevaluate his impression of Kennedy''s supposed weakness.

 

Some would later attack Kennedy for this choice, too. Why challenge Russia at all? Why were the missiles such a big deal? Didn''t the United States have plenty of their own pointed at the Soviets? Kennedy was not unsympathetic to this argument, but as he explained to the American public in an address on October 22, it wasn''t possible to simply back down:

 

The 1930s taught us a clear lesson: Aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged, ultimately leads to war. This nation is opposed to war. We are also true to our word. Our unswerving objective, therefore, must be to prevent the use of these missiles against this or any other country, and to secure their withdrawal or elimination from the Western Hemisphere. . . . We will not prematurely or unnecessarily risk the costs of worldwide nuclear war in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth-but neither will we shrink from that risk at any time it must be faced.

 

What''s most remarkable about this conclusion is how calmly Kennedy came to it. Despite the enormous stress of the situation, we can hear in tapes and see in transcripts and photos taken at the time just how collaborative and open everyone was. No fighting, no raised voices. No finger-pointing (and when things did get tense, Kennedy laughed it off). Kennedy didn''t let his own ego dominate the discussions, nor did he allow anyone else''s to. When he sensed that his presence was stifling his advisors'' ability to speak honestly, he left the room so they could debate and brainstorm freely. Reaching across party lines and past rivalries, he consulted openly with the three still-living ex-presidents and invited the previous secretary of state, Dean Acheson, into the top-secret meetings as an equal.

 

In the tensest moments, Kennedy sought solitude in the White House Rose Garden (afterward, he would thank the gardener for her important contributions during the crisis). He would go for long swims, both to clear his mind and to think. He sat in his specially made rocking chair in the Oval Office, bathed in the light of those enormous windows, easing the pain in his back so that it might not add to the fog of (cold) war that had descended so thickly over Washington and Moscow.

 

There is a picture of Kennedy with his back to the room, hunched over, leaning both fists on the big desk he had been chosen by millions of voters to occupy. This is a man with the fate of the world on his shoulders. He has been provoked by a nuclear superpower in a surprise act of bad faith. Critics are questioning his courage. There are political considerations, personal considerations, there are more factors than any one person should be able to weigh at one time.

 

Yet he lets none of this rush him. None of it will cloud his judgment or deter him from doing the right thing. He is the stillest guy in the room.

 

Kennedy would need to stay that way, because simply deciding on the blockade was only the first step. Next came announcing and enforcing this five-hundred-mile no-go zone around Cuba (which he brilliantly called a "quarantine" to underplay the more aggressive implications of a "blockade"). There would be more belligerent accusations from the Russians and confrontations at the UN. Congressional leaders voiced their doubts. One hundred thousand troops still had to be readied in Florida as a contingency.

 

Then there would be the actual provocations. A Russian tanker ship approached the quarantine line. Russian submarines surfaced. An American U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba, and the pilot killed.

 

The two biggest and most powerful countries in the world were "eyeball to eyeball." It was actually scarier and more dire than anyone knew-some of the Soviet missiles, which had been previously thought to be only partly assembled, were armed and ready. Even if this wasn''t known, the awful danger could be felt.

 

Would Kennedy''s emotions get the best of him? Would he blink? Would he break?

 

No. He wouldn''t.

 

"It isn''t the first step that concerns me," he said to his advisors as much as to himself, "but both sides escalating to the fourth and fifth step-and we don''t go to the sixth because there is no one around to do so. We must remind ourselves we are embarking on a very hazardous course."

 

The space Kennedy gave Khrushchev to breathe and think paid off just in time. On October 26, eleven days into the crisis, the Soviet premier wrote Kennedy a letter saying that he now saw that the two of them were pulling on a rope with a knot in the middle-a knot of war. The harder each pulled, the less likely it would be that they could ever untie it, and eventually there would be no choice but to cut the rope with a sword. And then Khrushchev provided an even more vivid analogy, one as true in geopolitics as it is in everyday life: "If people do not display statesmanlike wisdom," he said, "they will eventually reach the point where they will clash, like blind moles, and then mutual annihilation will commence."

 

Suddenly, the crisis was over as quickly as it began. The Russians, realizing that their position was untenable and that their test of U.S. resolve had failed, made signs that they would negotiate-that they would remove the missiles. The ships stopped dead in the water. Kennedy was ready too. He pledged that the United States would not invade Cuba, giving the Russians and their allies a win. In secret, he also let the Russians know that he was willing to remove American missiles in Turkey, but would do so in several months'' time so as not to give the impression that he could be pressured into abandoning an ally.

 

With clear thinking, wisdom, patience, and a keen eye for the root of a complex, provocative conflict, Kennedy had saved the world from a nuclear holocaust.

 

We might say that Kennedy, if only for this brief period of a little less than two weeks, managed to achieve that stage of clarity spoken about in the ancient Chinese text The Daodejing. As he stared down nuclear annihilation, he was:

 


Careful as someone crossing an iced-over stream.

 


Alert as a warrior in enemy territory.

 


Courteous as a guest.

 


Fluid as melting ice.

 


Shapable as a block of wood.

 


Receptive as a valley.

 


Clear as a glass of water.

 



The Daoists would say that he had stilled the muddied water in his mind until he could see through it. Or to borrow the image from the emperor Marcus Aurelius, the Stoic philosopher who himself had stared down countless crises and challenges, Kennedy had been "like the rock that the waves keep crashing over. It stands, unmoved and the raging of the sea falls still around it."

 

Each of us will, in our own lives, face crisis. The stakes may be lower, but to us they will matter. A business on the brink of collapse. An acrimonious divorce. A decision about the future of our career. A moment where the whole game depends on us.

These situations will call upon all our mental resources. An emotional, reactive response-an unthinking, half-baked response-will not cut it. Not if we want to get it right. Not if we want to perform at our best.

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4.7 out of 54.7 out of 5
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Top reviews from the United States

Ryan Boissonneault
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Look elsewhere for better books on Stoicism, virtue ethics, or meditation
Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2019
This is my first book by Ryan Holiday, and I must say, I''m not overly impressed. The book wavers back and forth between insightful and inane. There is some useful advice, to be sure, including the benefits of being fully present, limiting inputs to prevent information... See more
This is my first book by Ryan Holiday, and I must say, I''m not overly impressed. The book wavers back and forth between insightful and inane. There is some useful advice, to be sure, including the benefits of being fully present, limiting inputs to prevent information overload, cultivating silence, turning off your cell-phone, and embracing the Stoic virtues of optimism, honesty, courage, justice, toleration, gratitude, and wisdom. This is all good advice, if not necessarily original or better covered by other Stoic philosophers.

But it is into the second part of the book where it all starts to fall apart, leading up to the cliche-fest that is the chapter titled “Accepting a Higher Power.” I get the unfortunate impression that Holiday doesn’t understand the difference between religion and philosophy. For someone supposedly well-versed in the practice of Stoicism, talk of “surrendering to a higher power” is entirely antithetical to the philosophy. Stoicism teaches us that the greatest goods are reason and virtue, and that the cultivation of virtue is entirely independent of anything external to ourselves and the people around us.

Holiday writes, “There is no stillness to the mind that thinks of nothing but itself.” This is supposed to imply that some sort of religious faith in a higher power is necessary for a meaningful life, as if a sense of awe cannot be achieved by, for example, looking through the Hubble Space Telescope, or that actually helping other people isn’t a better way to be selfless than praying. I’ll admit that I’m growing tired of reading authors projecting their own psychology into the text and assuming that those lacking religious faith are selfish and miserable. Science and humanism are enough for me, and for many other Stoics, humanists, atheists, and agnostics, thank you.

Holiday also betrays his lack of training as a professional philosopher when he insists, more than once, that if many different people believed something in the past, it must be true. This “appeal to the bandwagon” fallacy is constantly repeated, with the implication that because belief in a deity was widespread in the past that it must be true. As Holiday writes, “That was the story with Lincoln. Like many smart young people, he was an atheist early in life, but the trials of adulthood, especially the loss of his son and the horrors of the Civil War, turned him into a believer.” It’s interesting to note that Holiday doesn’t mention David Hume, Bertrand Russell, Jeremey Bentham, John Stuart Mill, Denis Diderot, John Dewey, and most contemporary philosophers and scientists that were or are atheists. (Diderot and Russell didn’t have easy lives, both being imprisoned for their beliefs. But neither “smart young person” recanted their atheism later in life.)

And here’s some condescension for you: Holiday writes, in the chapter on accepting a higher power, “Perhaps you’re not ready to do that, to let anything into your heart. That’s okay. There’s no rush. Just know that this step is open to you. It’s waiting. And it will help restore you to sanity when you’re ready.”

If you enjoy being talked down to like this, you’ll love the book!

The structure of the book is also somewhat redundant. It’s broken up into three parts: mind, spirit, and body. However, the chapters titled “Say No” and “Seek Solitude” in the body section are largely a repeat of the chapters titled “Limit Your Inputs” and “Cultivate Silence” in the mind section. There is, in fact, a lot of redundancy found throughout the book, along with a large dose of empty phrases with little substance.

There are, to be fair, some redeeming qualities. The numerous biographical details are interesting, and, again, there is some genuinely good advice, particularly when Holiday sticks closest to Stoicism. However, this is not something I could recommend. I think you’d be better off reading the classics of Stoicism or contemporary philosophers specializing in Stoicism like Massimo Pigliucci.
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Brian Johnson | Optimize
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Another gem from Ryan Holiday
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
Ryan Holiday is one of my absolute favorite writers. I thoroughly enjoyed The Obstacle Is the Way. Then Ego Is the Enemy. Then The Daily Stoic. Then Perennial Seller. So... When Penguin Random House sent me an advance copy of this book (Thanks, guys!), I couldn''t... See more
Ryan Holiday is one of my absolute favorite writers. I thoroughly enjoyed The Obstacle Is the Way. Then Ego Is the Enemy. Then The Daily Stoic. Then Perennial Seller.

So... When Penguin Random House sent me an advance copy of this book (Thanks, guys!), I couldn''t wait to read it.

In fact, one of the testimonials in the front of the book perfectly captures my sentiment. Screenwriter and director Brian Koppelman (Rounders, Ocean’s Thirteen and Billions) puts it this way: “I don’t have many rules in life, but one I never break is: If Ryan Holiday writes a book, I read it as soon as I can get my hands on it.” <- Exactly.

(Plus: Cal Newport (who arm wrestles Ryan for my favorite writer status) is the first testimonial in the book. He says: “Some authors give advice. Ryan Holiday distills wisdom. This book is a must read.” <- Yep.)

This book is an inspiring, super-practical look at WHY "stillness" is such an essential component to peak performance in every domain of life. I highly (!) recommend it.
126 people found this helpful
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PhotoBuff
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Repetitive, cliche, boring and nothing original.
Reviewed in the United States on October 13, 2019
One of the staff asked for copies of this book to share with staff and I quickly glanced through it and approved the purchase. When I finally got around to reading it, realized it''s just preachy, has no real substance and repeats the same mantra over and over again using... See more
One of the staff asked for copies of this book to share with staff and I quickly glanced through it and approved the purchase. When I finally got around to reading it, realized it''s just preachy, has no real substance and repeats the same mantra over and over again using "quotes and sayings" by other authors or stoics.
The whole book is a regurgitation of what others basically said and there is no new or original thoughts presented. Lots of examples that will no resonate with many people who are not familiar with sports or athletes as author uses examples from sports events.

I would have returned the extra copies purchased by they had already been handed out to staff and none seemed impressed with the gift lol I generally like this author but this was a lazy piece of work
83 people found this helpful
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Christopher Dungeon
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
I''d give it 6 stars if I could.
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
Let me start this off by saying that I rarely write amazon book reviews, but in this case I feel compelled to because this is such a _Fabulous_ book. I''ve never taken so many notes, and I''m not even through Part I. Almost everything Ryan writes in this book is... See more
Let me start this off by saying that I rarely write amazon book reviews, but in this case I feel compelled to because this is such a _Fabulous_ book. I''ve never taken so many notes, and I''m not even through Part I.

Almost everything Ryan writes in this book is Profound.

With Ryan''s specific direction and insight, and with your own discipline, you can EASILY become a better version of yourself.

Highly Recommended! I''d give it 6 stars if I could. Cheers!
68 people found this helpful
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JaysonGaignard
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
The wisest investment is wisdom...
Reviewed in the United States on October 1, 2019
And Ryan''s books are full of them! Even though I''m just digging in... I can confidently give a 5-star review because I''ve read virtually every book the author has ever published, and each one has had somekind of positive effect on my life (or the life of those closest to me... See more
And Ryan''s books are full of them! Even though I''m just digging in... I can confidently give a 5-star review because I''ve read virtually every book the author has ever published, and each one has had somekind of positive effect on my life (or the life of those closest to me - especially The Obstacle Is The Way).

With that said, I will provide a more detailed review as soon as I''m done reading in the coming days!
54 people found this helpful
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BobbyJade
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointed
Reviewed in the United States on October 5, 2019
Extremely disappointed.
Not the quality of thought as previous work. This one seems contrived, and shallow.
Writing rambles on and is not clear and concise as the reader has come to expect.
43 people found this helpful
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Scotland810
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A Good Book for Busy People
Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2019
I have been waiting for this book to come out and was so excited when I got home from work Tuesday and found it on my doorstep. Ryan Holiday never disappoints. I have read all his books and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I have only started this one. After reading the... See more
I have been waiting for this book to come out and was so excited when I got home from work Tuesday and found it on my doorstep. Ryan Holiday never disappoints. I have read all his books and have thoroughly enjoyed them all. I have only started this one. After reading the chapter on desire I decided not to buy copies for my family. This isn''t a book for people who already practice mindfulness it is for those wrapped up in the world''s stresses and busy lifestyles. It has a lot of good meaty history and philosophy.
35 people found this helpful
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Jerry
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Ryan Holiday Continues to Impress
Reviewed in the United States on October 3, 2019
Ryan''s books are always good reads, and this one is no exception. I''m about 50 pages in, and I''ve already found a lot of material for my commonplace book. I think I''ll be devouring the rest of this book very quickly!
23 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Chiraag
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Inspiring, Thought-Provoking and Practical - Worth a Read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 13, 2019
Distracted minds are commonplace in today''s world. With information overload, lots of people have forgotten how to be more present and in the moment. Maybe this is why mindfulness has become so popular. Boredom is something that people hate with a device needed to keep us...See more
Distracted minds are commonplace in today''s world. With information overload, lots of people have forgotten how to be more present and in the moment. Maybe this is why mindfulness has become so popular. Boredom is something that people hate with a device needed to keep us company and our minds indulged, even when waiting in the shortest of queues or period of inactivity. From a peak performance perspective, stillness as Ryan describes it becomes really important to maintain focus and presence during overwhelming chaos and stress. This is a small book but packed with richness. Ryan uses stories of Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Marina Abramovic, Napoleon, Shawn Green, Fred Rogers, Anne Frank, Socrates, John Cage, Awa Kenzo, Marcus Aurelius, Tiger Woods, Seneca, Leonardo da Vinci, Michael Jordan, Winston Churchill, Epictetus, William Gladstone and many others. Ryan uses these to demonstrate how important stillness is for self-mastery, discipline and focus in this noisy world. The book divided into three parts: 1. Mind 2. Spirit 3. Body Each part has several chapters making the case for stillness and giving life practices that can help to practically develop stillness. I do feel that the book could have more practical tips but for me it really does help with stirring the emotions and helping to really value the importance of stillness in my life and finding ways to develop this. For me this topic is really important. I previously read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport and have also pre-ordered Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Indistractable-Control-Your-Attention-Choose/dp/1526610221/ I will be reading this book a few times to inspire me and develop practices to help me as I try to navigate this world of chaos. I recommend this if this is the journey you are also looking to take.
33 people found this helpful
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M
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
He''s dropped the ball on this one.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 31, 2020
If you ‘re expecting a book as good as Holiday''s previous work ''The Obstacle is the Way'' then this isn''t it. With ''The Obstacle is the Way'' Holiday stuck to one subject, stoicism, and wrote about what the stoic philosophers taught. This book deals with the more amorphous...See more
If you ‘re expecting a book as good as Holiday''s previous work ''The Obstacle is the Way'' then this isn''t it. With ''The Obstacle is the Way'' Holiday stuck to one subject, stoicism, and wrote about what the stoic philosophers taught. This book deals with the more amorphous term of ''stillness'' which he uses to refer to ‘peace of mind’. The subject is a worthy one but the author spends the whole book saying what you should be doing, but he doesn’t point out how you should be doing it. The subject is also one that moves into the realms of eastern philosophy and psychology, and Holiday is woefully under qualified in these areas. Instead, he uses his usual method of dividing the book into three parts and giving varied examples from the lives of famous people given to him by his researchers. These examples are often forced and he contradicts himself from one chapter to the next. For example, in one chapter he holds JFK up as an example of stillness during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and then in another chapter he condemns JFK for cheating on his wife during the same incident. He also holds Churchill up as a good example yet only lists his positive qualities, and fails to mention any of his many negative traits. The worst part for me was Holiday’s style of writing. When he was a debut author his style was direct and refreshing now he is preachy, and seems to be believing his own press. In the end this book seeks to be about an important subject, but simply becomes about the ignorance of the writer.
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Geoff60
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Disappointing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 30, 2019
I''m a fan of Ryan Holiday and enjoy his books and daily blogs immensely the best so far being ''The Obstacle is the Way''. Because his other publications have been so good ''Stillness is the key'' is quite a disappointment. I felt there was a slight shift towards psychobabble...See more
I''m a fan of Ryan Holiday and enjoy his books and daily blogs immensely the best so far being ''The Obstacle is the Way''. Because his other publications have been so good ''Stillness is the key'' is quite a disappointment. I felt there was a slight shift towards psychobabble in that he claims the protagonists of the various stories all achieved their success to stillness which is probably stretching things a bit far. I found those links to stillness to be quite weak. On the positive side there are some good stories but overall is this book just about meditation?
16 people found this helpful
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N. Engelen
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Great storytelling, great lessons, easy to read... Highly recommended!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 29, 2019
Stillness is the key by Ryan Holiday Having read Ryan’s other books The obstacle is the way and Ego is the enemy I was excited to learn about this new book coming out. As a martial artist I like the eastern philosophies Zen, Taoism, etc… So the title spoke to me. The book,...See more
Stillness is the key by Ryan Holiday Having read Ryan’s other books The obstacle is the way and Ego is the enemy I was excited to learn about this new book coming out. As a martial artist I like the eastern philosophies Zen, Taoism, etc… So the title spoke to me. The book, just like Ryan’s other books consists out three parts which are divided into chapters. These chapters are each a story around a theme. Stories are great vehicles to get lessons across. The stories by Ryan often do more than just teach, they also inspire. Ryan who is known for being inspired by Stoicism, delves into many different backgrounds for his stories, east, west, past and present… Universal and timeless… Like classical music where the same pieces are played with different chords the book sheds a fresh light on classical teachings. What I like about the book is the storytelling, the easy to read stories can be easily read during a short break, not too long, not too short and they grab your attention and hold it right up to the end. Then the rest of the day you can ponder on it and try to apply it in your daily life. The act of reading the book itself already gets you into this state of stillness. Which brings peace on a hectic day and answers to questions and problems. Stillness is indeed the key. And like the Zen saying goes: “It is the silence between the notes that makes the music; it is the space between the bars that cages the tiger.”
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M Smith
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Insightful and concise
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 27, 2019
I''d enjoyed Holiday''s Ego is the Enemy, so I was excited to try this. It didn''t disappoint. It''s organised into very short, snappy chapters and covers a lot of ground. The book takes after the Stoic philosophers he cites so often and presents a guide to living a good life....See more
I''d enjoyed Holiday''s Ego is the Enemy, so I was excited to try this. It didn''t disappoint. It''s organised into very short, snappy chapters and covers a lot of ground. The book takes after the Stoic philosophers he cites so often and presents a guide to living a good life. Holiday''s writing is breezy and clear and he doesn''t waffle, which is appreciated given the weight of the book''s subject matter. Can''t recommend it highly enough. A great book. Can see it being a perfect primer for teenagers on philosophy and it made me reconsider my own approaches to issues, too.
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