Add a Little Stoicism to Your Startup





As a kid, going to the library for me was like going to a candy store. I never knew what yummy books and magazines I would find to devour; I rarely left empty-handed. Now, as an adult, with less time to read and more clients to help, most of my reading material is related to learning more about the brain and behavior. (When I retire, IF I DO, I’ll go back to picking up books on marine archeology and UFOs)!

As an adult, my trips to the library are just as adventurous, but more of a gamble, in that only about 6 out of 10 visits I’ll find something really helpful. However, 1 out of 10 times I‘ll leave with something life-changing for myself and for those I coach. A recent example of a 1 out of 10 moment was when I got to the “new books” table (it’s hilarious how my heart rate picks up when I approach this table− I’ve actually measured it!) and noticed a book on the philosophy of Stoicism, called “The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance and the Art of Living” by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman. Despite my previous study of existentialism and Buddhism, I had never given Stoicism much thought until that day.

As I read about this 3rd century philosophy and all the famous people who subscribed to Stoicism from George Washington to the New England Patriots coaching staff, I was stunned to see how dead-on-the-mark applicable it was to two of my favorite topics− communication and entrepreneurship. Before you start rolling your eyes thinking that “Stoicism” is about living life with a stiff upper lip towards life, it is not like that. It is, as Epictetus (A.D. 50 – 135) put it, about how “to use our reason to choose how we categorize, respond and reorient ourselves to external events.”  What a better way to prepare a founder to weather the ups and downs of entrepreneurship. In future blogs, and as I learn more about this very inspiriting philosophy, I will occasionally sprinkle in helpful pearls of Stoic wisdom to add to your success as a person and as an entrepreneur.

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