Our guest this week is none other than bestselling author Ryan Holiday talking about his new book Stillness is the Key and how that applies to performers and competitors in all walks of life. Ryan has written countless bestselling books and has made ancient wisdom wildly popular with a new generation of leaders in sports, politics, and technology with The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego Is the Enemy. 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, and stillness is the key to be steady while the world spins around you. How can you be calm in the midst of chaos?
Stillness is how do you slow things down? How do you have clarity? Purpose? How do you have intention with what you’re doing and limit waste and inefficiency? How do you find solitude and peace?
In this podcast and in his 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.
Ryan 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.
01:15 – 30,000 foot view of Ryan’s perspective of the Stoic mindset and philosophy
04:50 – The overall theme of Ryan’s writing and the 4 virtues of the Stoic philosophy
07:00 – When Ryan writes, who is he speaking to?
09:10 – The evolution of Ryan’s writing – from business and marketing to Stoicism
11:40 – We are all competitive, so how do you define winning as a writer?
15:00 – Social comparison and why it is detrimental to competitors
19:20 – The Stoic philosophy of control
23:00 – Speaking to the Cleveland Browns and relating the Stoic philosophy to football
27:00 – Speaking with the Los Angeles Rams about not focusing on external factors
30:00 – Different media outlets and their influence on the general public vs. sports media’s influence on actual sporting events
35:40 – The overall philosophy of Stillness and why it is so important
40:00 – Examples of people who have found Stillness in different ways
45:00 – Comparing and contrasting the two most prominent Stoics who are vastly different people
52:00 – How Stillness helps you hit a goal that is constantly changing
58:10 – What does Ryan do to recharge himself?
It is not things that upset us. It’s our judgment about things.
Seneca talks about this too, he says that being poor is not a number. Being poor is the sense that you don’t have enough. There are middle class people, I promise you, that feel much richer than some of the people on the Forbes list.