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Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday

In the second in the trilogy of reflective and dip-in style words of wisdom from Ryan Holiday (The first being Courage is Calling: Fortune Favors the Brave) drawing on evidence and anecdotes from some of the most well known and successful people in our histories. For some reason, Lou Gherig also makes a surprisingly large number of appearances throughout the book, popping up in nearly all of the vignettes provided by Holiday to demonstrate his points. It is pretty clear that Holiday is a huge fan of the Yankees star batter and the game of baseball more generally.

Holiday is a supporter of stoicism, an ancient belief kindled through his introduction to Epictetus during his college years (and who makes several appearances in the book). In this way, ethics, order and discipline become the tenets for the book, and the life of Holiday himself.

The vignettes are all examples of the demonstrable effects that the manta ‘little and often’ can provide. Queen Elizabeth II, for example, features prominently for her commitment to her position, her tireless service to others, and a homage to the structures she has put into place to ensure that each person she meets - millions according to the book - feel seen and appreciated. Not an easy task by anyone’s estimations. Of course, comparisons to Lou Gherig are made here too…

Reading this book is somewhat of an awakening, a reminder in a very good way to cut the noise out of life and to concentrate on what really matters and what is truly important in one’s life. Once that is established, work tirelessly to maximise opportunities and to create something that will be lasting. The more you include in your life, the less likely you are to achieve the outcome hoped for. The more laser focused you are, the more likely you are. Simple concepts, well executed.

By his own admission, Holiday struggled to write this book, it was a daunting task especially given the world situation of the last three years, but through the stories and the anecdotes told throughout the book, it is easy to see why he persevered. The persevering is the point of this. The outcome is bigger than the process, but it is the process that is the important aspect upon which to focus.

In Discipline is Destiny, Holiday create something really quite special. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read with references to Winston Churchill, Beethoven, Queen Elizabeth II, Toni Morrison, and (yes) Lou Gherig. These (among many many others) provide the stimulus to recognise the aspects that propelled them into greatness, and how we mere mortals can hang on their coattails and perhaps find our own symphony or home run along the way.

An enlightening, and enjoyable reflective read. The vignettes allow for a dip in style of reading, but once you start, it really is so easy to just take it all in. The difficult task for any reader is the application of these ideas!

Reviewer: Chris Reed

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