Stoicism For Success

Date Published:
September 13, 2022
Summer Stirling

Can Stoic Principals Help Your Business?

Stoicism offers an operating system for the wild tides of life. The stoics gave us principles that draw from logic and reason, rather than the hype and fear that comes with high-pressure fields, such as business. 

Below are just four simple examples of the important lessons the stoics have stamped into the history books.

Be Present

Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Give yourself a gift, the present moment.”

It’s easy to get caught up in thoughts of the future. What trends will come next? Will year-end profits meet targets? Will your business even survive the odds in the long run? 

Or, perhaps you lost out on a once-in-a-lifetime partnership, and you’re kicking yourself for it to this day.

Is all that kicking moving you forward? 

That’s not to say that these thoughts have no merit. Prepare for your future, and learn from your past. But, to dwell on them is to lose the present –the only time in which you can make magic happen, to do the work that will get you to the future you seek.

Give Yourself A Break

Leisure, in Greek, is scholé—or school. Leisure is time away from the work we must do to survive -time to pursue intellectual or creative paths.

As Seneca reminded his friend, “The mind must be given relaxation. It will rise improved and sharper after a good break. Just as rich fields must not be forced…so constant work on the anvil will fracture the force of the mind.”

While working a 120-hour work week might be impressive to some (side-eye towards you, Elon Musk). This practice is wholly unethical to ask of employees, and beyond unhealthy and unsustainable to ask of yourself.

With rest and a sharper mind, you can work smarter, not harder.

Besides, while hard work and determination are admirable, no one gets to their deathbed and wishes they had worked more.

What Is Out of Your Hands Is Out of Your Control

Marcus Aurelius wrote: “Be tolerant with others and strict with yourself.”

You can start each day at 5:00 am, schedule work tasks to the minute, and plan for every hiccup you can imagine… but life will still throw you a traffic jam, a sick child, or hell, a global pandemic. 

So while you can be strict with yourself, your control ends there. Accepting what you cannot change and facing the people and obstacles in your way with kindness and interest will get you much farther than a tantrum.

Having high standards and sticking to them makes you a person people can trust and rely on. Being flexible with adversity helps people like you as well. The power you have over yourself is not the power you get to wield over others.

Patience, From Pennies To A Palace

Epictetus wrote: “No thing great is created suddenly, any more than a bunch of grapes or a fig. If you tell me that you desire a fig, I answer you that there must be time. Let it first blossom, then bear fruit, then ripen.”

We’ve all wanted a quick fix at some point. An unearned windfall, an overnight millionaire success, our monopolizing competitors to vanish into quicksand (just me?). 

But life doesn’t work that way. Life has never worked that way. 

The sweetest fruits need nurtured soils, fresh water, and labour. Despite what all the 80 million influencers and online-course peddlers are salivating to promise you, there is no instant success strategy. 

Let reality form your expectation and appreciate each footstep in the right direction. 

For more information on stoic wisdom, I can't think of a better source than Ryan Holiday's site

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