Stoicism is a philosophy that was built for hard times. Which is why it’s perfect for entrepreneurs.
What use is a “good times” philosophy for when times are tough?
The key pillars of stoicism are:
- Your principles are more important than wealth, health and reputation
- Emotions such as anger and fear are personal choices
- Focus on what is within your control
- Don’t react to others
Being stoic doesn’t mean being hard-hearted or unemotional. “Free from passions” doesn’t mean being like a statue.
Although external things are beyond your direct control, you nevertheless try to take “appropriate action” to increase your odds of success.
You will be affected by your emotions, but by employing the virtues of courage and self-discipline, you will not be “carried away” by your feelings.
As a stoic you realise that you can only act to the best of your ability. At some point the result is out of your hands.
Whatever will happen will happen. Not only must you accept your fate, you should embrace it.
Love it. Amor fati.
What counts is your intent. Was your initial action under your rational control? Or were you acting out of passion? Did you act for the right reasons?
The answers to these questions will determine whether you have done the right thing. Doing the right thing is the only prerequisite for a successful life.
Do your best, but if things don’t go your way, be cool. Christians used to write ‘D.V.’ or ‘Deo Volente’ (‘God willing’ in Latin) at the end of letters. ‘Insha’Allah’ (Arabic for ‘God willing’) means something similar in Islam.
Some stoic philosophy reading:
Meditations: A new translation, by Marcus Aurelius & Gregory Hays
The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holliday
Courage under Fire, by James Stockdale