The Busy Entrepreneur’s Guide To Stoicism – The Philosophy That Will Change Your Life

The Busy Entrepreneur’s Guide To Stoicism – The Philosophy That Will Change Your Life

Let me begin by asking you this – do you have a code of conduct?

Do you have a guiding set of principles that dictate how you react to different situations in your life? Or are you walking through the world, stumbling at every hurdle, barely taking enough time to understand how or why bad things keep happening?

Whether you know it or not, you have a personal code. And that code is what drives all of your actions. Your philosophy is what shapes your worldview. It is the lens through which you make sense of the world and the experiences that happen to you. So, it bears questioning, is your personal philosophy helping you get to where you need to be?

For those of you who are getting into the entrepreneurial world and are launching your own businesses, having a robust philosophy that can guide you through the twists and turns of the business world is crucial.

Introducing – Stoicism.

Stoicism isn’t a new-age philosophy or a fad. As a matter of fact, it is one of the oldest schools of thought in existence. The origins of Stoicism go back to 3rd Century BC, where it was founded by Zeno. In years to come, Stoicism would be the rock that would guide luminaries such as Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca through a life much harsher than most of us undergo in today’s world.

So, you might ask – What is Stoicism? Why should I pay attention to it?

Stoicism does not involve incense offerings or weird meetings where people sit around in a circle and chant something in an incomprehensible language. Quite the opposite, in fact. Stoicism was created and shaped to deal with the day-to-day challenges of surviving in the real world. As a result, it has profoundly powerful benefits to offer those of you who want to venture into the world of entrepreneurship.

What are the basic beliefs or tenets of Stoicism?

Stoicism has its roots in the unpredictability of life. It reminds us how fleeting our lives are, and how much of the world is truly out of our control. It teaches us how to be strong, brave and hold firm in the face of grief, sorrow and difficult situations. It reinforces the idea that most of our dissatisfaction with life comes from our tendency to react emotionally, rather than employ logic when we are faced with a situation.

To give you a greater perspective on how effective Stoicism really is, let us examine the men who employed it, and really consider the size of their challenges.

·       Marcus Aurelius – The Emperor of Rome, and the most powerful man on earth was a fervent Stoic, writing notes to himself about compassion, humility and restraint on a daily basis.

·       Epictetus – Overcame slavery and all its horrors to build his own school, where he educated the brightest Roman minds.

·       Seneca – Advisor to the Emperor Nero, was one of the greatest Stoics. When confronted with his own death, he thought only of comforting his wife and friends.

·       Frederick the Great – The King of Prussia carried around Stoic teachings with him on his travels, citing them as a great resource in times of misfortune.

Interesting. How do I get started?

Stoicism is unique amongst philosophies because it is meant to be practiced, not just contemplated by intellectuals. For the man or woman of action, there is no better guiding philosophy. With that said, let us take a look at three practical ways in which you can employ the teachings of Stoicism.

·       Embrace misery and discomfort.

As the principal advisor to the Emperor of Rome, Seneca was blessed with a lot of wealth and material comforts. However, he suggested that it is imperative for every human being to take some time to experience being poor. He told everyone who would listen, that when they put themselves in a situation they fear so dearly, they would realize that it wasn’t nearly as bad as they would think it was.

Use this idea in your own life. Most of our stress and fear is based on our expectations and calculations bout the future. If you’re afraid, really afraid of something – whether it’s starting your own business or giving up your cushy home and car so you can have some money to invest in your idea, do it. Become familiar with your worst-case scenario, and watch your fear evaporate.

·       Understand that things aren’t objectively good or bad.

Let’s say you’re trying to help out a friend with a personal or professional problem they’re having. While you’re trying to help, suppose this person responds by being passive-aggressive or defensive. Now, instead of looking at your attempt to help them as a failure, train yourself to see what the situation is really telling you – in this case, it’s teaching you that you need to be more patient or understanding.

Every single obstacle that comes in your way is actually a gift. It is a sign, a map that points you towards the things that need to be fixed. None of the prospects you sent your proposal to replied? Great – now you can make a proposal that is undeniable.

·       Nothing is ever as serious as you think it is.

Do you remember the first time you walked up to someone you liked and asked them for a date? Remember the anguish, the terror, the dread? It might have seemed like the most monumental challenge you had ever encountered. Where is that feeling now? Several years later, do you even remember why you were so afraid?

Remember this – your life is temporary. So are your possessions. Every conqueror, every ruler, every sultan of every kingdom has come and gone. Where there were once colossal structures, now lies dust and ruin.

Instead of looking at your most failure or shortcoming as life-shattering, take a moment to realize that it is temporary. You will move on, just like you always have. This too, as they say, shall pass. Stay calm.

Believe it – thoughts become things. If you’re not armed with the correct mindset and perspective, you will continue to be flabbergasted when life’s challenges come your way.

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