Stillness is The Key - Ryan Holiday

Stillness is The Key - Ryan Holiday

Video Book Summary

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Book Summary Notes

 Stillness is The Key 

“It wouldn’t have mattered whether you were a pupil at the feet of Confucius in 500 BC, a student of the early Greek philosopher Democritus one hundred years later, or sitting in Epicurus’s garden a generation after that—you would have heard equally emphatic calls for this imperturbability, unruffledness, and tranquility."

"The Buddhist word for it was upekkha. The Muslims spoke of aslama. The Hebrews, hishtavut. The second book of the Bhagavad Gita, the epic poem of the warrior Arjuna, speaks of samatvam, an ‘evenness of mind—a peace that is ever the same.’ The Greeks, euthymia and hesychia. The Epicureans, ataraxia. The Christians, aequanimitas."

"In English: stillness. To be steady while the world spins around you. To act without frenzy. To hear only what needs to be heard. To possess quietude—exterior and interior—on command.  To tap into the dao and the logos. The Word. The Way."

"Buddhism. Stoicism. Epicureanism. Christianity. Hinduism. It’s all but impossible to find a philosophical school or religion that does not venerate this inner peace— this stillness—as the highest good and as the key to elite performance and a happy life."

"And when basically all the wisdom of the ancient world agrees on something, only a fool would decline to listen.”

What do you think of when you think of stillness?

Seems like there are a lot of different opinions on it right?

  • Stillness means meditation..  
  • Stillness means yoga.. 
  • Stillness means minimalism.. 
  • Stillness has been around forever and has taken many many forms.. 
  • But inside this book we're going to talk so much more than the many forms of stillness. 

Inside we're going to talk about what stillness really is.. 

We're going to talk about why cultivating it is maybe the most important thing you will ever do..  

And we're going to get practical on how you can build a stillness within you that cannot be broken. 

The Key

“‘Vicksburg is the key,’ he [Lincoln] told the crowd with the certainty of a man who had studied the matter so intensely that he could express it in the simplest of terms. ‘The war can never be brought to a close until that key is in our pocket.’"

"As it happened, Lincoln turned out to be exactly right. It would take years, it would take incredible equanimity and patience, as well as ferocious commitment to his cause, but the strategy laid out in that room was what won the war and ended slavery in America forever. ... In his reflective, intuitive manner, without being rushed or distracted, Lincoln had seen (and held fast to) what his own advisors, and even his enemy, had missed. Because he possessed the key that unlocked victory from the rancor and folly of all those early competing plans."

"In our own lives, we face a seemingly equal number of problems and are pulled in countless directions by competing priorities and beliefs. In the way of everything we hope to accomplish , personally and professionally, sit obstacles and enemies. Martin Luther King Jr. observed that there was a violent civil war raging within each and every person—between our good and bad impulses, between our ambitions and our principles, between what we can be and how hard it is to actually get there."

"In those battles, in that war, stillness is the river and the railroad junction through which so much depends. It is the key . . . Stillness is the key to, well, just about everything."

"To being a better parent, a better artist, a better investor, a better athlete, a better scientist, a better human being. To unlocking all that we are capable of in this life.”

Stillness is certainty and focus..

Imagine all of the problems, battles and competing priorities Lincoln had..  

  • No one would have blamed him for skipping from one battle to another..  
  • Everyone would have expected him to do that!
  • But that's what made him great..  He had the vision of what he knew needed to be accomplished!

But not only that he simply set about accomplishing that thing!

He didn't let the problems he saw before him distract him from his ultimate vision..  

That right there is what helped him win the war.

Think about your vision..  

  • What are the problems that come up?
  • What are the competing priorities?
  • Have you let these get you side tracked?

Story about a coaching client..

  • I recently spoke with a Young Woman who had a dream..
  • She wanted to be a designer for high class websites.. 

But when we spoke she was doing so many different things!

  • Social Media management.. 
  • Copywriting..  
  • Facebook ads..

Constantly switching from one thing to another.. 

When we spoke I demonstrated how important it is to have the vision in mind and be ready to say 'no' to everything other than that thing..  

One of my mentors calls it the idea fairy..  

That fairy always comes around when you set out on accomplishing a goal!

The ego has a way of distracting you from your true calling..

Stillness is the key to not let that happen!

Information Diet

“It is in this stillness that we can be present and finally see truth. It is in this stillness that we can hear the voice inside us."

"How different would the world look if people spent as much time listening to their conscience as they did to chattering broadcasts? If they could respond to the calls of their convictions as quickly as we answer the dings and rings of technology in our pockets."

"All this noise. All this information. All these inputs."

"We are afraid of the silence. We are afraid of looking stupid. We are afraid of missing out. We are afraid of being the bad guy who says, ‘Nope, not interested.’ We’d rather make ourselves miserable than make ourselves a priority, than be our best selves.  Than be still . . . and in charge of our own information diet.”

Can you even hear the voice inside of you?

This point hit home for me..  Let me tell you my story!

  • A few years back I found this amazing source of information..  The internet!
  • During a particularly dark time in my life I was taking in 10x more information that I was outputting..
  • Not only did this cause me to not move forward but it also caused me a lot of distress..

Human beings are better creators than we are computers..

  • Storing more information is not going to make you feel better..  
  • Creating something with that information..  Listening to your own compass..  Feeling out your own true path..  That's the key to a better life!

Why do you think I make these Mind Maps?  

  • Making these Mind Maps and the videos I create here takes way more time than actually reading the book does..
  • But it allows me to connect them to my real life, it allows me to understand why this information is important..
  • However it also shows me how to say NO to a lot of information..  These Mind Maps have less than 5% of all the information available in these books!  For a reason..

Write S**t Down

“Anne [Frank] used her journal to reflect: ‘How noble and good everyone could be’ she wrote, ‘if at the end of the day they were to review their own behavior and weigh up the rights and wrongs. They would automatically try to do better at the start of each new day, and after a while, would certainly accomplish a great deal.’"

"That is what journaling is all about. It’s spiritual windshield wipers, as the writer Julia Cameron once put it. It’s a few minutes reflection that both demands and creates stillness. It’s a break from the world. A framework for the day ahead. A coping mechanism for troubles of the hours just past. A revving up of your creative juices, for relaxing and clearing."

"Once, twice, three times a day. Whatever. Find what works for you."

"Just know that it may turn out to be the most important thing you do all day.”

Journalling as a way to create stillness.. 

Journaling is a game changer..  I hope most of you are already doing it!  But if you're not you should start.

  • How should you do it?  As Ryan says here.. Who cares!
  • I write in mine once in the morning and once at night..  Plus it sits on my desk during the day!  
  • But again who cares..  Only have one time a day?  That's fine!  Only have time for audio notes?  That's perfect!

Through journaling we can take an impartial look into our own lives!

  • This tool allows us to see what we're really good at.. 
  • And where we could improve!

Just the process of writing this stuff down gives us a lot of stillness..

  • Journaling helps us to stop beating ourselves up..
  • Allows us to see where we are making the same mistakes time and time again..  
  • And one big one for me..  Allows me to see how good I'm actually doing!

Often I find myself disappointed with my days..  

Only to journal at the end of the day and realize how much I really got done..  

Journaling has helped me even out my expectations of myself!


“Marcus Aurelius famously described a number of what he called ‘epithets for the self.’ Among his were: Upright. Modest. Straightforward. Sane. Cooperative. These were, then, the traits that served him well as emperor."

"There are many other traits that could be added to this list: Honest. Patient. Caring. Kind. Brave. Calm. Firm. Generous. Forgiving. Righteous."

"There is one word, however, under which all these epithets sit: virtue.  Virtue, the Stoics believed, was the highest good—the summum bonum—and should be the principle behind all our actions. Virtue is not holiness, but rather moral and civic excellence in the course of daily life. It’s a sense of pure rightness that emerges from our souls and is made real through the actions that we take."

"The East prized virtue as much as the West. The Daodejing, for instance, actually translated as The Way of Virtue. Confucius, who advised many of the rulers and princes of his day, would have agreed with Marcus that a leader was well served by the pursuit of virtue. His highest compliment would have been to call a ruler a junzi—a word that translators still have trouble finding equivalents for in English but is roughly understood as a person who emanates integrity, honor, and self-control.”

What standard do you hold yourself too?

I think this is a great way to think about personal development..

  • Instead of 'do this' or 'hack that' what if we just asked ourselves..  Who do I want to be?
  • What standards would that person have?
  • How could I go about living up to those standards?

Ryan Says this in the book..  

  • “Each of us must cultivate a moral code, a higher standard that we love almost more than life itself. Each of us must sit down and ask: What’s important to me? What would I rather die than betray? How am I going to live today?"
  • "These are not idle questions or the banal queries of a personality quiz. We must have the answers if we want the stillness (and the strength) that emerges from the citadel of our own virtue.”

So let's think..  

  • What's important to you?
  • What would I rather die than betray?
  • How am I going to live today?

Now write these things down..  Get a tattoo!  Whatever you need to do.. But live to these virtues.

Domain of Body

“As Paul Johnson, one of Churchill’s best biographers, would write, ‘The balance he maintained between flat-out work and creative and restorative leisure is worth study by anyone holding a top position.’ Johnson as a seventeen-year-old, decades before his own career as a writer, met Churchill on the street and shouted at him, ‘Sir, to what do you attribute your success in life?’"

"Immediately, Churchill replied, ‘Conservation of energy. Never stand up when you can sit down, and never sit down when you can lie down.’"

"Churchill conserved his energy so that he never shirked from a task or backed down from a challenge. So that, for all this work and pushing, he never burned himself out or snuffed out that spark of joy that made life worth living. (Indeed, in addition to the importance of hard work, Johnson said the other four lessons from Churchill’s remarkable life were to aim high; to never allow mistakes or criticism to get you down; to waste no energy on grudges, duplicity, or infighting; and to make room for joy.) Even during the war, Churchill never lost his sense of humor, never lost sight of what was beautiful in the world, and never became jaded or cynical.”

Churchill was an amazing man..  

While you might not pick Churchill to be the poster child of health!  He was an extremely prolific man. 

Served in office from six plus decades.

Wrote over forty books.

Painted more than 500 paintings.

That stuff takes a lot of energy!

Maybe listening to what he has to say on energy would be a good idea..

  • Take your time to rest..  Don't be constantly trying to push yourself forward!
  • Don't let yourself get burnt out by the shear grind of your day to day..  

But most of all don't let mistakes or criticism get you down, waste no energy on grudges or infighting.. 

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