Marcus Aurelius was a philosophical Roman Emperor. He wrote ‘Meditations‘, which has remained as one of the most famous stoic philosophical texts for almost 2000 years. Can a man who wrote so long ago have any relevance to entrepreneurs?
From my interviews with dozens of successful serial entrepreneurs, I have begun to recognise a pattern within them all. A mindset or a way of thinking. Doing something yourself, going against the flow, finding your interest and sticking to it – it takes character.
Marcus Aurelius fought many battles, but used nature as his guidance. He’s known not as a fearsome warrior, or a charismatic leader, but a quiet man who found comfort in the philosophy of logos.
To me, starting a new business is like starting or joining a war. You’ve got competition, you’re reaching out into new territory, you’re spreading new ideals. Yet that does not mean it must be an agressive war. Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese war general explained that the best generals win wars without going to battle.
Yet, through my interviews, I am discovering that quite often the war is also within oneself. And so here, I have written five quotes from Marcus Aurelius (translated from Ancient Greek by Gregory Hays) and ask, to what extent are these relevant to entrepreneurs? Read them and decide for yourself.
Quotes from Meditations, by Marcus Aurelius
“The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you’ll be no one, nowhere – like Hadrian, like Augustus. The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being; remind yourself what nature demands of people. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”
“When you have trouble getting out of bed in the morning, remember that your defining characteristic – what defines a human being – is to work with others. Even animals know how to sleep. And it’s the characteristic activity that’s the more natural one – more innate and more satisfying.”
“Stick to what’s in front of you – idea, action, utterance.”
“It’s normal to feel pain in your hands and feed, if you’re using your feet as feet and your hands as hands. And for a human being to feel stress is normal – if he’s living a normal human life. And if it’s normal, how can it be bad?”
“Love the discipline you know, and let it support you. Entrust everything willingly to the gods, and then make your way through life – no one’s master and no one’s slave.”
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