Steve Pollack Book Review | Stillness is the Key by Ryan Holiday

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stillness is the key

"That quiet feels so unnatural is a sign of its importance. Seize it. We can’t be afraid of silence, as it has much to teach us. Seek it." - Ryan Holiday, Stillness is the Key


Following up on his two ancient wisdom bestsellers The Obstacle Is the Way and Ego Is the Enemy, in Stillness is the Key Ryan Holiday addresses another essential aspect of personal growth and leadership that draws on Stoic and Buddhist philosophies.


As a noun, the word sounds serene and easily attainable, but try actually being still, and you discover why so many of the world's greatest leaders spend a lifetime trying to master it.

In Stillness is the Key, Holiday explores the role of stillness in the decision-making process of some of the world's great leaders, thinkers, artists and atheletes. He shares anecdotes highlighting the power of stillness in the lives of Abraham Lincoln, John F Kennedy, Fred Rogers, Anne Frank, Socrates, Awa Kenzo, Seneca, Michael Jordan, Sadaharu Oh, Leonardo da Vinci, Confucius, Winston Churchill, and many others.

Holiday contends that stillness, as effortless as the word may sound, is not mere inactivity, but a mental skill and a discipline that is both challenging to attain, and essential for anyone seeking to function at their very highest potential.

Holiday's book offers strategies for quieting the mind and discusses some basic tools, such as the practice of journal writing, that can be incorporated into the reader's efforts at self-exploration.

That space between your ears—that’s yours. You don’t just have to control what gets in, you also have to control what goes on in there. You have to protect it from yourself, from your own thoughts. Not with sheer force, but rather with a kind of gentle, persistent sweeping. Be the librarian that says “Shhh!” to the rowdy kids, or tells the jerk on his phone to please take it outside. Because the mind is an important and sacred place. Keep it clean and clear.

In these challenging times, where so many people feel overwhelmed, fearful and stressed, Stillness Is the Key offers inspiration, sage advice and a clear path to self-discovery, contentment and excellence.

Steve Pollack

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