Old wisdom is a thing. Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius knew a thing or two, which he recorded in a series of personal writings that became his book ‘Meditations’ around 180 AD. The writings built on ideas found in the Stoic philosophy of early 3rd century BC Hellenistic-era Greece. Old wisdom indeed.

Jumping forward to 2014, Ryan Holiday based his book ‘The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph’ on a quote from Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations: ‘The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.’

UK hospitality is in the shadow of a massive obstacle: the ‘B’ word, now the new way of our island world. Really, though, this is just the latest in a never-ending series of obstacles that ultimately make us stronger and better. And hopefully smarter.

Few would argue that it’s never been better for the UK consumer, not just in terms of food, but access to food (delivery, click ‘n collect, self-ordering kiosks, and so on). Fancy an Afghan curry for office lunch? No problem. A dirty fully-loaded vegan burger at three AM? Sure. You name it, it’s not only there, wherever and whenever you want it, but it’s better than ever.

The government doesn’t seem to understand that high streets and customer habits are changing. They continue to heavily burden and refuse relief to the hospitality industry, while allowing massive (non-tax paying) corporate giants (hello Amazon!) to ravage the consumer landscape.

The impact of Brexit will doubtlessly thwart purchasing and access to a hard-working labour pool who’d be delighted to come and contribute to our industry, culture, and economy (including actually paying their taxes – a strange concept…). The possibility of an increase in unhealthily modified and unethically produced foods is now a potential reality that will not only throw our industry into array, but wreak havoc with the NHS, if the average American diet is anything to go by.

Scratching the surface but, phew! That’s enough to throw the most ebullient of relentless optimists.

Ryan Holiday’s book suggests steps to not only overcome obstacles, but to utilise them for long-term improvement. He argues that challenges don’t inhibit success: they create success. Successful leaders should see ‘through the negative, past its underside and into the positive’.

In other words, how we respond to obstacles defines us.

To do so successfully, he offers three steps, or disciplines:

1. Perception. Find opportunity through analysing issues in an objective, rational, and ambitious way.

2. Action. Remember that action/reaction is commonplace, but the right action is not. Deliberation, boldness, and persistence are key themes.

3. Will. Cultivating our own unique willpower is a trump-card. Through resilience, acquiescence, and cheerfulness, we build internal mechanics that help us navigate through challenges with great purpose.

Each of these disciplines is illustrated with anecdotes from the worlds of politics, commerce, history, and sports, from the likes of Obama, Steve Jobs, and Amelia Earhart, among others.

And each anecdote provides fuel, inspiration, and, critically, a demonstration that focused positive energy emerges the victor over whatever obstacles are thrown our way.

There’s never been a better time to embrace the lessons of Stoicism. The obstacles thrown up by the isolationist idiocy of Brexit will be overcome. All we need is some solid old wisdom and a serious dose of utilitarian optimism over despair.