On patience and letting things go

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More than often it is better to hold your tongue

  • “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.”ZENO, QUOTED IN DIOGENES LAERTIUS, LIVES OF THE EMINENT PHILOSOPHERS, 7.1.26
  • You can always get up after you fall, but remember, what has been said can never be unsaid.
  • Especially cruel and hurtful things

Raat gai baat gai

  • There a famous saying in Pakistan “Raat gai Baat hai” which literally translates to when the night is over the thing you are upset about is as well.
  • Take it one day at a time, and add the closes so should the grievances associated with that be over with them as well

Seneca on anger

More generally, when someone wrongs us, says Seneca, he should be corrected “by admonition and also by force, gently and also roughly.” Such corrections, however, should not be made in anger. We are punishing people not as retribution for what they have done but for their own good, to deter them from doing again whatever they did. Punishment, in other words, should be “an expression not of anger but of caution.”

Seneca therefore recommends that we take steps to ensure that we never get too comfortable. (This, of course, is only one of the reasons Stoics give for eschewing comfort; in chapter 7 we examined some others.) If we harden ourselves in this manner, we are much less likely to be disturbed, he says, by the shouting of a servant or the slamming of a door, and therefore much less likely to be angered by such things. We won’t be overly sensitive about what others say or do, and we will be less likely to find ourselves provoked by “vulgar trivialities,” such as being served lukewarm water to drink or seeing a couch in a mess.

To avoid becoming angry, says Seneca, we should also keep in mind that the things that anger us generally don’t do us any real harm; they are instead mere annoyances. By allowing ourselves to get angry over little things, we take what might have been a barely noticeable disruption of our day and transform it into a tranquility-shattering state of agitation. Furthermore, as Seneca observes, “our anger invariably lasts longer than the damage done to us.”7 What fools we are, therefore, when we allow our tranquility to be disrupted by minor things.

He reflects on the times, almost a century earlier, of Emperor Vespasian. People everywhere were doing the usual things: marrying, raising children, farming, loving, envying, fighting, and feasting. But, he points out, “of all that life, not a trace survives today.”9 By implication, this will be the fate of our generation: What seems vitally important to us will seem unimportant to our grandchildren. Thus, when we feel ourselves getting angry about something, we should pause to consider its cosmic (in)significance. Doing this might enable us to nip our anger in the bud.

Marcus also offers advice on anger avoidance. He recommends, as we have seen, that we contemplate the impermanence of the world around us. If we do this, he says, we will realize that many of the things we think are important in fact aren’t, at least not in the grand scheme of things. He reflects on the times, almost a century earlier, of Emperor Vespasian. People everywhere were doing the usual things: marrying, raising children, farming, loving, envying, fighting, and feasting. But, he points out, “of all that life, not a trace survives today.”9 By implication, this will be the fate of our generation: What seems vitally important to us will seem unimportant to our grandchildren. Thus, when we feel ourselves getting angry about something, we should pause to consider its cosmic (in)significance. Doing this might enable us to nip our anger in the bud.

When angry, says Seneca, we should take steps to “turn all [anger’s] indications into their opposites.” We should force ourselves to relax our face, soften our voice, and slow our pace of walking. If we do this, our internal state will soon come to resemble our external state, and our anger, says Seneca, will have dissipated.10 Buddhists practice a similar thought-substitution technique. When they are experiencing an unwholesome thought, Buddhists force themselves to think the opposite, and therefore wholesome, thought. If they are experiencing anger, for example, they force themselves to think about love. The claim is that because two opposite thoughts cannot exist in one mind at one time, the wholesome thought will drive out the unwholesome one.

There are also people, though, who seem to be angry pretty much all of the time. These individuals are not only easily provoked to anger, but even when provocation is absent they remain angry. Indeed, during leisure hours, these individuals might spend their time recalling, with a certain degree of relish, past events that made them angry or things in general that make them angry. At the same time that it is consuming them, anger appears to be providing them with sustenance. Such cases, the Stoics would tell us, are tragic. For one thing, life is too short to spend it in a state of anger. Furthermore, a person who is constantly angry will be a torment to those around her. Why not instead, Seneca asks, “make yourself a person to be loved by all while you live and missed when you have made your departure?”12 More generally, why experience anti-joy when you have it in your power to experience joy? Why, indeed?

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On minimalism

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You don’t need much to survive, just look a few years back

  • “Nothing can satisfy greed, but even a small measure satisfies nature. So it is that the poverty of
  • an exile brings no misfortune, for no place of exile is so barren as not to produce ample support for a person.”
  • —SENECA, ON CONSOLATION TO HELVIA, 10.11b
  • It can be beneficial to reflect on what you used to accept as normal. Consider your first paycheck—how big it seemed then. Or your first apartment, with its own bedroom and bathroom and the ramen you gladly scarfed down in the kitchen. Today, as you’ve become more successful, these conditions would hardly feel sufficient. In fact, you probably want even more than what you have right now. Yet just a few years ago those paltry conditions were not only enough, they felt great!
  • When we become successful, we forget how strong we used to be. We are so used to what we have, we half believe we’d die without it. Of course, this is just the comfort talking. In the days of the world wars, our parents and grandparents made do with rationed gas, butter, and electricity. They were fine, just as you have been fine when you had less.
  • Remember today that you’d be OK if things suddenly went wrong. Your actual needs are small. There is very little that could happen that would truly threaten your survival. Think about that—and adjust your worries and fears accordingly
  • Daily stoic
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On innovation

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1. Prioritizing what to work on

I always start by not only visualizing a pain to solve, but I visualize the outcome if it is solved. And I ask myself: Is this something exciting that I’m willing to go after? Or not really? Because I don’t think offering solutions is enough. I think pain is a very important starting point, but I don’t think every pain is worth answering, or worth solving, and sometimes if you solve the pain, I’m not sure whether you’re creating a better place that you would like to be playing in or not.

  • Health care executive
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On decision making

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Judge a book by its cover

  • At first, this can seem like the opposite of everything you’ve been taught. Don’t we cultivate our minds and critical thinking skills precisely so we don’t simply accept things at face value? Yes, most of the time. But sometimes this approach can be counterproductive.
  • What a philosopher also has is the ability, as Nietzsche put it, “to stop courageously, at the surface” and see things in plain, objective form. Nothing more, nothing less. Yes, Stoics were “superficial,” he said, “out of profundity.” Today, while other people are getting carried away, that’s what you’re going to practice. A kind of straightforward pragmatism—seeing things as their initial impressions make them.
  • Source: Daily stoic

Have an iron will, but an adaptable will

When you set your mind to a task, do you always follow through? It’s an impressive feat if you do. But don’t let yourself become a prisoner of that kind of determination. That asset might become a liability someday.

Conditions change. New facts come in. Circumstances arise. If you can’t adapt to them—if you simply proceed onward, unable to adjust according to this additional information—you are no better than a robot. The point is not to have an iron will, but an adaptable will—a will that makes full use of reason to clarify perception, impulse, and judgment to act effectively for the right purpose.

It’s not weak to change and adapt. Flexibility is its own kind of strength. In fact, this flexibility combined with strength is what will make us resilient and unstoppable.

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Finding purpose and happiness

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Natural purpose of humans is to work with others

  • “Whenever you have trouble getting up in the morning, remind yourself that you’ve been made by nature for the purpose of working with others, whereas even unthinking animals share sleeping. And it’s our own natural purpose that is more fitting and more satisfying.”—MARCUS AURELIUS, M EDITATIONS, 8.12
  • If a dog spends all day in bed—your bed, most likely—that’s fine. It’s just being a dog. It doesn’t have anywhere to be, no other obligation other than being itself. According to the Stoics, we humans have a higher obligation—not to the gods but to each other. What gets us out of bed each morning—even when we fight it like Marcus did—is praxeis koinonikas apodidonai (to render works held in common). Civilization and country are great projects we build together and have been building together with our ancestors for millennia. We are made for cooperation (synergia) with each other.
  • Daily stoic

The purpose of life is to be happy

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius

Purpose is what gets you out of bed each morning

  • Marcus Aurelius believed that we each have a purpose; something we were created for. It is our duty to carry out that purpose. Here’s a quote that reflects this:
  • “Everything, a horse, a vine, is created for some duty. For what task, then, were you yourself created? A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for.”

  • In addition, Marcus Aurelius believed that your purpose is what gets you out of bed each morning. Here’s Marcus Aurelius:
    • “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: ‘I have to go to work–as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for–the things which I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?’
    • –But it’s nicer here…
    • So you were born to feel ‘nice?’ Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands?
    • –But we have to sleep sometime…
    • Agreed. But nature set a limit on that–as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. But not of working. There you’re still below your quota. You don’t love yourself enough. Or you’d love your nature too and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they’re really possessed by what they do, they’d rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts. Is helping others less valuable to you? Not worth your effort?

Bad actions are actually result of ignorance

  • Unhappiness and evil are the result of ignorance. Thus, if someone is unkind– or acts boorishly– it’s because they’re not thinking clearly. Here’s a passage from “Meditations” that makes this point:
  • “. . . Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness – all of them due to the offenders’ ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore, none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading.’” Marcus Aurelius

You have two essential tasks in life: to be a good person and to pursue the occupation that you love.

When God has a plan for you, it doesn’t matter who stays against it

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On work

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  1. The definition of a professional is that he will get the job done no matter how he is feeling inside

    Never shirk the proper dispatch of your duty, no matter if you are freezing or hot, groggy orwell-rested, vilified or praised, not even if dying or pressed by other demands. Even dying is one of the important assignments of life and, in this as in all else, make the most of your resources to do well the duty at hand. MARCUS AURELIUS, M EDITATIONS, 6.2
  • It’s what we must use to decide what to do in each and every phase of life. Morality can be complicated—but the right thing is usually clear and intuitive enough to feel in our gut. Our duty is rarely easy, but it is important. It’s also usually the harder choice. But we must do it.

2. The ability to single task without distractions is a critical component of success. As the saying goes, “The successful man is the average man focused.”

3. Focus on what is in-front of you

If you ever feel that your next job might be too big for you. Always remember that your job in reality is just the next upcoming meeting, the deliverable or your next presentation. As long you do your best at them and be prepared in advance by default you will do great at your job

“Every hour focus your mind attentively on the performance of the task in hand, with dignity, human sympathy, benevolence and freedom, and leave aside all other thoughts. You will achieve this, if you perform each action as if it were your last.”

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Having the right temperament

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  1. Always stay calm

    There is a maxim that Navy SEALs pass from officer to officer, man to man. In the midst of chaos, even in the fog of war, their battle-tested advice is this: “Calm is contagious.”
    Especially when that calm is coming from the man or woman in charge. If the men begin to lose their wits, if the group is unsure of what to do next, it’s the leader’s job to do one thing: instill calm—not by force but by example.
    That’s who you want to be, whatever your line of work: the casual, relaxed person in every situation who tells everyone else to take a breath and not to worry. Because you’ve got this. Don’t be the agitator, the paranoid, the worrier, or the irrational. Be the calm, not the liability.
    Daily stoic

2. Don’t expect different results if you do the same thing over

    In order to get different results, you would need to do change the pattern of what you were doing
    Sticking with the same unsuccessful pattern is easy. It doesn’t take any thought or any additional effort, which is probably why most people do it.

3. Convert impediments into opportunities to learn

  • Today, things will happen that will be contrary to your plans. If not today, then certainly tomorrow. As a result of these obstacles, you will not be able to do what you planned. This is not as bad as it seems, because your mind is infinitely elastic and adaptable. You have the power to use the Stoic exercise of turning obstacles upside down, which takes one negative circumstance and uses it as an opportunity to practice an unintended virtue or form of excellence.
  • If something prevents you from getting to your destination on time, then this is a chance to practice patience.
  • If an employee makes an expensive mistake, this is a chance to teach a valuable lesson.
  • If a computer glitch erases your work, it’s a chance to start over with a clean slate.
  • If someone hurts you, it’s a chance to practice forgiveness.
  • If something is hard, it is a chance to get stronger.
  • Try this line of thinking and see whether there is a situation in which one could not find some virtue to practice or derive some benefit. There isn’t one. Every impediment can advance action in some form or another.
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Lessons I have learned as a management consultant

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Not all projects are made for you to hit a home run on

  • Certain projects are not correctly set up for success. You can blame it on the partner who signed the statement of work or an impossible client, whatever the reason may be. There are ground realities, that in certain projects you will not be able to
    • In those cases, focus on quick wins, think singles and doubles instead of home runs.
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Getting what you want

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  1. Follow the process

    Elite athletes in collegiate and professional sports increasingly follow a philosophy known as “The Process.” It’s a philosophy created by University of Alabama coach Nick Saban, who taught his players to ignore the big picture—important games, winning championships, the opponent’s enormous lead—and focus instead on doing the absolutely smallest things well—practicing with full effort, finishing a specific play, converting on a single possession. A season lasts months, a game lasts hours, catching up might be four touchdowns away, but a single play is only a few seconds. And games and seasons are constituted by seconds.
  • If teams follow The Process, they tend to win. They overcome obstacles and eventually make their way to the top without ever having focused on the obstacles directly. If you follow The Process in your life—assembling the right actions in the right order, one right after another—you too will do well. Not only that, you will be better equipped to make quick work of the obstacles along that path. You’ll be too busy putting one foot in front of the next to even notice the obstacles were there.
  • Source: Daily stoic

2. You have to believe it to achieve it

Cameo Alvarez said that he is the best boxer in the world and said that you have to believe it to achieve it

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