Why should we do the right thing, just because it's right? Or because we want to?
Doing the right thing for the right reasons requires no balloons, pats on the back or acknowledgment from a loved one. Seneca says I must be just; without reward. The deed itself offers a greater return. It makes no difference how many people are aquatinted with your uprightness. Strive for virtue, not renown. Seneca Letter 113. On the vitality of the soul and its attributes
Bad habits and accidental habits are easy. They require no work, they just into our lives and remain, seemingly forever. The problem with habits (intentional habits) is that they initially require a lot of work, but the payback is enormous and they can be stacked indefinitely on top of each other.
Personal development is a lifelong work. Stoicism is no different.
Despite trying my best to be stoic, I found a hidden corner of failure.
The COVID-19 virus exposed me to a litany of blind spots I didn't know I had. I was still in the vice grip of uncontrollable events lurking deep in my sub-conscious.
Photo by Kaique Rocha from Pexels
We all know the feeling of laying in bed with thoughts endlessly swirling around.
How do we get those thoughts out of our head?
You need to put them there.
The answer is in the simplicity
Cover photo Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels
Stoicism teaches us to look inward, and to do more with less. Prior to COVID-19 it was difficult to imagine how much I could trim.
I delayed buying a new car, cut back going to dinner, had less exotic holidays.
Braver people then I may have even abstained. But I couldn’t cut things back all the way because of social pressure and the lack of imagination.
From my blog series here
Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels
A fisherman who cannot go to sea prepares his nets.
I grew up with kids who’s fathers were fisherman. I remember how on windy days they’d have fishing nets strewn along the length of their huge concrete driveway. The father and grandfather would stand over the nets with big needles and plastic twine repairing tears. Then they’d deal with the ropes, plastic bubbles and bits of chain.
They wouldn’t do this every time they couldn’t fish, only when they knew they would have an extended period out of the sea. It took a lot of effort to unload the nets, take them home, and go through the whole process.
I’m no longer busy. I have nothing I ‘have’ to do. The COVID-19 pandemic has seen to that.
I’m in my 50s and, for the first time since high school, I have nowhere to be, nothing to do. It feels a little like the first few days of summer break from school.
From my blog series here
I've had an extremely stressful time running my business through the 2020 Covid pandemic.
Stoic practice has lots of ways of dealing with stress but in this podcast I've gone for a conscious stream of thought which focuses on two things gratitude and journaling.
I know too many people it might sound fuzzy and impractical, but let me leave you with this thought about journaling. The only way to get something out of your head is to put it somewhere. Journaling is a great way to put those thoughts somewhere that is not inside your head.
From my blog series here
Should I be fatalistic toward the future?
I write this in the middle of Covid-19 pandemic.
It’s easy to think, ‘oh it’s not fair’. If only that person in China who first contracted the disease didn’t go to that seafood market. If only I would have save more money. If only, if only, if only.
There is a great saying suggesting we should not cry over spilled milk. This is a profoundly deep stoic thought.
The Stoics were fatalists. This means that whatever happened was meant to happen and whatever happens will happen regardless of whatever happens.
From my blog series here
Throughout my life I’ve had to explain myself. Why won’t you eat your dinner? Why did you come home at 3 am? Why didn’t you study more?
Why didn’t you train harder?
As I get older, it seems, the more I stick my head up, the more I need to explain myself.
Why did you do it like this, or that, or I thought we would do this instead?
In order to please people, I’ll give an explanation, any explanation. This comes from my inability to say no.
I am here on my journey and not even I understand the reason I do things.
From my blog series here
I run a business and we are decimated by the stupid Covid-19 virus.
Here's how I've used all the tools I've learnt to navigate with firing staff, shuttling the office and dealing with suppliers who have gone broke.
It's never too late to get on board.
From my blog series here
We can lean on ancient philosophies to get through these hard times.
The philosophies have been around for over 2,000 years and multiple plagues and disasters.
Here are 4 steps to get through tough times and find the sun.
From my blog series here
It feels natural to focus on the past and the future. We can get caught up with past decisions, regrets, or even reminiscing about the good times.
Like everyone, I worry about the future and all it holds.
“No one can lose either the past or the future, for how can someone be deprived of what’s not theirs?” Marcus Aurelius.
To focus on the present is all we have. All the good times (and bad times) in my life are irrelevant now. I need to be indifferent to the past, and the future.
From my blog series here
Is arrogance good or bad?
Sometimes it’s seen as a strength. We commonly refer to strong leaders with romantic notions of walking through a crowd with quiet arrogance. It’s seen as a sign of confidence, of someone on top of their game, provided it is not unjustified.
But deep down, it’s not one of those terms I want to be associated with. It is one of those terms that has negative connotations.
“The truest characters of ignorance are vanity and pride and arrogance.” ~ Samuel Butler
Why is it seen considered a negative trait?
Mark Twain said it simply, but in a manner that required great thought.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”
From my blog series here
When something terrible happens, I’m quick to respond with “oh bad luck”.
Similarly, during bad times I (like many people), am hopeful of good times ahead. I hope that eventually my luck will turn.
This belief in a future positive circumstance is called hope. And we all believe in hope in one way or another.
“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one” ~ John Lennon.
So pervasive is our need for hope that we hope for hope. We hope for good luck in the future.
From my blog series here
Today I was tested. I had to fire someone who was fast becoming a friend. The person was doing a good job, and I liked him, but the business conditions had changed so dramatically that it made it difficult to keep him employed. My stoic practice helped immensely with this process despite there being a seeming contradiction with one of the four virtues of Stoicism.
Further blog articles can be found at https://www.stevendipietro.com/blog
What does it cost to buy something? Sure there is the monetary consideration. A croissant cost you a couple of dollars. A car might cost me tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know with a car there is the added cost of insurance, maintenance and fuel. But there are hidden costs like the cost to garage the vehicle. But if I look deeper I can find even more costs.
From my blog series here
What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be uniquely human? Stoic philosophy dictates that we should live a virtuous life, that is, our most excellent life, being our most excellent self. This rumination looks at the question of what is at the core of being human.
From my blog series here
“How’s your day going?”
“Yeah OK thanks.”
Does this mean you’re happy? Happiness is the goal for many of us.
We’d rather be happy than sad.
Are you happy with your new job? Yeah, I’m happy with my new job.
At what point do I become happy as opposed to unhappy?
Is there a line? Of course not.
Happiness is a spectrum between unhappy and happy.
Sounds right, but it’s not that simple. Happiness requires context. Once you find that, you’ll find that happiness doesn’t require anything.
From my blog series here
Sometimes we just have to switch off. Sitting on a plane, bus or car gives us a chance to stop. Despite going 900km an hour, a plane gives me solitude. A plane gives me a reason to stop. I can’t get up and walk around. I can’t go chat to a friend. I’m stuck there in seat 13F in a bubble made of strangers.
This longer podcast recording is from an interview I did with Warwick Merry from the Get More Success podcast. Unit we talk about what it's like to run a company with 50,000 contractors over multiple times zones, but more importantly it's about how we define success. We dig into specifics about how I philosophy (stoic or otherwise) can help manage a business. #stoicism #stoic #getmoresuccess
Full blog article here
Photo by Sebastian Voortman from Pexels
What has the stoic way taught me? Calmness, strength, and a practical way to live my best life. My life philosophy is the same. It’s reading and doing. I respect wisdom which has survived thousands of years, but I need to do things myself. So far it’s taught me how to stay level. To enjoy more of life and to deal with the storms. Ultimately the goal is to be the best version of myself. In this Podcast I'll examine what this means.
I want to impart my knowledge. I need to say something. I’m well read, clever, and can talk. What a dangerous combination. My brother used to ask me “why do you always have to fill silence with your voice”. When he first said it, I saw it as a badge of honour. I assumed the quiet had nothing to say. I also assumed the quiet weren’t thinking at all. Speaking is often just another impulse. It’s the verbalisation of unfiltered thought. Sometimes it’s not even a thought. Sometimes it’s a verbalisation of ego. Leaving things unsaid is good training to tame the sub conscious. But it’s also the right thing to do. Silence allows the others to speak and think. As a leader, the silence of the leader is powerful than a speech. Silence is action. Silence is a confident statement to say: ‘“I trust you and my team” I’ll keep my voice for when I’m being asked for an opinion.
Image and attribution here.
Full blog article here
We constantly want more more more. Often have that feeling that I haven't got my just desserts. Epictetus teaches us to loosen our hand in the goody jar. We need to recognise those costs of the costs don't need to deter from our enjoyment.
How do I train against false impressions? Do I even need to? False impressions happen based on the emotion which comes from putting my lens on things. It comes from doing things and thinking things to suit my own agenda. ....... After the gut feel is made, I need the courage to question that gut feel. The gut feel is the starting point. It's the starting point which needs to be disproven or proven. But either way it can't be used on its own. Relying on gut feel is simply lazy.
That big payday seems a lifetime ago. I remember the day well. It was only three days ago. My business received some large outstanding payments which were crippling us. I celebrated. I even bought champagne. But I knew, I knew that it was only temporary. The good times don’t last long. ........................... When the bad news came, it surprised my staff. My calmness surprised them. I could see their darting eyes looking at each other, waiting, waiting for a queue to jump in and throw metaphorical stones into the pit of disaster that was unfolding. I stayed calm. I sat in the middle of the room and we calmly talked it out. There were disagreements to be sure, but there wasn’t a single swear word or a raised voice. ........ Stoicism makes the hard times easier. It can also help me appreciate the good times more markedly. ..... This stoic approach of calmness and logic made the bad time perversely (somewhat) enjoyable. This never used to be me. I’m a passionate arm-waving fast talking emotional Italian. But I’ve learnt negative actualisation. I’ve thought of the exact disaster scenario. I’ve thought of what it would be like to lose the client altogether. I’ve emotionally played it in my head. I’ve played out how I’d be told, and how I’d feel. I was prepared for when it happened.
I recently found myself being jealous of my cousin.. I was jealous of their situation and angry with myself. Not them. But I know nothing of how long they’ll be semi-retired. I know nothing of their expected lifestyle. I don’t know if they’ve inherited money. I don’t know anything. .......... Joseph Epstein put it perfectly, "Of the 7 deadly sins, only envy is no fun at all". .......... Being jealous of one activity should not extrapolate to a whole person. Sure she may wish she could travel like I do, but, does she really want to be me? She has no reason to be jealous of all of me, and nor should I of her. And we are the closest of relatives. We really understand each other. We are super close. So how misguided would be my jealousy of a mere acquaintance or a stranger? I need to keep training my mind to recognise these emotions. Then I can deal with them. Awareness is everything.
When are we personally successful? When is our business a success? What should we measure ourselves against? I may want to learn from specific behaviours but not be the person I'm mimicking. I want to speak like Obama, but I'll never collect his speaking fee. We are all on different journeys. The stoic journey is through the controllable internal, not the external.
I’ve got a little secret to tell. Yes I am the CEO of a company and founder, and a lot of people will see from my social media that I travel a lot. It would give the impression that I leave the rich at high life. But nothing could be further from the truth. I actually lead to very humble life and some of that has been forced upon me. (Bad financial decisions). I also drive a very old car. It’s a 10-year Ford Fiesta With 200,000 km. Recently I’ve been thinking about replacing it. Second gear doesn’t really work since my daughter took the car a few years ago, the cruise control is broken and it has squeaks. But it works. I’ve been thinking about replacing it with a tesla. I love the idea of the ultimate car technology and removing one more carbon consuming car on the road. I was recently looking On their website and I got that familiar little tingly feel you get when you get closer to that thing that you’ve been wanting to buy for a long time. I was getting closer and closer. But then I thought of Seneca and Epictetus and their stoic advice to practice poverty. This doesn’t mean to go without food necessarily. But it means to go without period. So I’ve resisted the new car quite awhile and I occasionally have these flashes of thoughts to buy the new one. But I think back to the practicality. Am I trying to impress people? Am I trying to impress myself? Do I really want to save the planet that badly? Surely I could buy a cheaper version of an electric vehicle? So I’m going to resist a little bit more. My life goes on regardless. It’s no worse and it’s no better. I got back from work today just fine and the world will keep spinning. The stoic philosophy is all about training the mind to do the things that get you towards tranquility in the long term and not to succumb to spikes of impulse. Now I might buy the car sometime in the future, but I’ve resisted for quite some time now and I’m going to resist a little longer. Perhaps until the card dies altogether.
The pleasures which take me from tranquillity other ones which are like a wolf in sheep‘s clothing. Is tranquility better than fun? Drinking has countless costs and punishes us with hangovers and bad decisions. But it’s fun for a short term. It releases stress. But we know the toll on our bodies and our emotional well-being can be enormous. The costs are not just financial, but they are costs in terms of maintenance and headaches. Where will I store the JetSki? I have to get the car fixed. I have to think about travel insurance. .................................. The problem is not that we are attached to our positions. Rather that our possessions have so many attachments. We have to deal with these positions in actions or in thoughts. Each possession has numerous tentacles into our life. It’s in my power whether I get attached to a position. However, it is not in my power to detach myself. .............................. All pleasures have a cost, even love. The cost of love is freedom. The ultimate love is the love of a child. Before my kids were born, I could decide to do something at 1 pm and it was pretty much within my power whether I did it. But once a child is born, if they fall asleep at 12:45 just before I have to go out, I cannot longer go out. My freedom is compromised. ........................... All pleasures have a cost. Account for it. When the cost exceeds the pleasure, it becomes a punishment.
In life and business all we want are a few moments of peace. Three things: distractions, diversions and avoidance. Rationally, they get me nowhere, and they certainly don't get me towards my goals. Distractions are an empty cost with no return. If these distractions got me closer to peace of mind, then they would make sense. But they don't. The cost is enormous because the return is less than zero; it is negative. I equate these distractions, diversions and avoidance to gambling. The more you undertake the activity, the more you lose. You may have a momentary hit of dopamine with a short term win, but ultimately you lose. Even if I get all these things impediments under control, will I ever feel like the business (or my life) is going well. Will I ever feel at peace? Probably not. Going well? What does that mean? When does that happen? Expect leadership and life to be hard. You will never keep riding the crest of a wave because it eventually crashes onto the sand. Even the wins are small. Business and work are hard. Expect it to be. Stoics know this, stoics practice this. As a leader, I have one job: to think of what's controllable, then taking ‘actions' on those things which I can control. So whenever my peace is endangered, I simply take a step, regardless of how big it is. But I only make those steps are for things I control, not for things that make me happy. Ultimately, this brings tranquility. Long-term tranquility or a spurt of happiness. I decide.
I will go 24 hours without food at least once a week. Why would I do that? We know we have to do important, uncomfortable things in life. We know we need to do the uncomfortable. Do something uncomfortable every day they say. But doing the uncomfortable hurts. We avoid it. How can I get more self-discipline? ........ The way you get better at self-control is to exercise the muscle, like anything else. You need to train for it physically and emotionally through negative visualisations. But I’ll leave those for another day’s reflections. Physical self-control comes from practice. If you want to get better at resisting temptation, then resist temptation. Sounds ridiculous. ........... I remember the last time I walked with my soft urbanite feet on rocky ground; it was painful because my feet are unnaturally soft. ........ We try to resist eating sugary foods, but when it’s time for dessert at a fancy dinner, we cave in. We have lost the strength to say no. We avoid firing a senior manager because we don’t want the pain and inconvenience of replacing them. Self-Discipline (or temperance) is about knowing how to act and feel despite emotions such as a strong desire, inner resistance, or lust. Self-discipline includes orderliness, self-control, forgiveness, and humility. It opposes the vice of excess. So how do you train for it? Use anything as a proxy, practice any way you can........ The more I train, the easier my life becomes.
Why do we fear death? If you look at it rationally, apart from the mode of death, once you are dead you have nothing to worry about. In fact, many existentialists would say that the moment before death is the most peaceful because it is the moment when all of your worries and all of your earthly problems disappear because they become irrelevant. But that’s cold comfort for a lot of us. Deep down we have this subconscious desire for survival. Death is feared more than anything else, but why? If you feel no pain in death, then what is there to fear? The fee comes in the fear of missing out. A child may be stressed about a friend’s birthday party, wondering whether they will get invited. They don’t want to miss out on the fun. As adults, we have the same inclination; we want to be invited to the special events. But if you don’t attend the event, you don’t have any experience to miss. In reality, you didn’t experience anything, and you didn’t therefore miss anything. But this is the point. You have missed out on what could have been. In our minds, we build romantic attachment to possibilities. I think ultimately people don’t want to die because there are so many other things they want to achieve in their lives. I want to live a happy retirement. I want to see my grandchildren grow up. I want to see the fruits of my labour. But going back to the party that you missed out on. It may be that on the way to the party, you got wiped out in a car accident. Maybe the party was just plain boring and you wasted your time. Or it could lead to an argument with your friend. As it is in life. We are not to know whether the future experiences will be wonderful or not, we just want to have the experience is good or bad. But what’s the use of hanging onto life if it is just an unsatisfactory life. Do we mainly live life hoping the future will be better? The Stoics spend a lot of time thinking about death. They call the meditations on death. This is not to make life unimportant and useless. It is precisely the opposite. Meditations on death are about confronting the fact that I will die, and before making the most of every single moment of my life. I will die, I will wipe my memory, I will have no problems, I will be no peace and no agony. That makes the experience of conscious awareness of being alive all the more remarkable and precious. This very moment. This very moment as I sit in a carpark waiting for a parking spot. I can choose to look at the gloomy grey foggy, drizzly sky and either appreciate it for what it is, or even think of the sun behind it which will surely soon break free. This very moment is the only one I have.
See full blog article here
Opinion is the sister of judgement. I should only give my opinion when asked, and even then, I should not overreach. My opinion will not change the outcome, it will only create my own stress because the world surely isn’t conforming to my opinions. Politics is a classic example. We all seem to have an opinion. But our opinions and (henceforth arguments) do not change the world. This doesn’t mean you should be a political mute. But with politics as with most things, it is actions that matter. Does someone have a bad boss? Who says they are bad? Bad for the employee? Bad for the company? Bad for morale? To judge a good or bad boss, you need the full context of everything they are doing. Having an opinion as to the talent of the boss does nothing to change the employee's individual position. The lack of an opinion does not mean you go through life wistfully oblivious to your surroundings. It means you rationally assess and take action. I can't let my subconscious lead with opinion and judgement.
See full blog article here
Needless conflict. We'll know that a lot of conflict is needless, but which conflict? And how can I avoid just that conflict? Isn't some conflict helpful and productive? The conflict I am thinking about is the conflict which comes from judgement and opinion. Conflict can only come from a difference of opinion. If there is conflict, it could be because the other person is wrong - in which case they won't be swayed unless they are receptive to facts. The other way conflict can arise is if they are right, and I am wrong. And it is difficult for us to see our own miss judgements and errors. Absent any receptiveness to facts and logical judgement, conflict will never be resolved, and therefore is needless. Why have a conflict if you are not going to convince the other person? Why have a conflict when you yourself will not be swayed? Isn't it just a huge waste of effort? I have a philosophy of not telling lies and not judging. Not telling lies is reasonably straightforward, if not an imperfect and somewhat unattainable goal. I aim towards it. ..... An event today rammed this home to me. My daughter called to ask advice about a co-worker who has been bullying and intimidating her other co-workers. My daughter is not one of the victims but she feels the need to interject and protect. My advice to her was as follows. I told her that she does not need to stir the pot and (as a result), create more conflict. She needs to remain calm, with poise, and be levelheaded. The greatest way she can help her workmates is to show calm compassion. She has raised the matter with her superior and did so in a very compassionate levelheaded manner. But I advised her not to go any further unless the boss asks for her opinion. If her opinion is sought, she needs to use that calm please to unemotionally give the opinions that she is asked and not to over reach. In any line of work, the most respected employees (and the ones who are promoted) are the ones who have this calm rational demeanour. I am not telling her to be cold and detached, but to offer calm compassion. That is the most difficult form of support. Much more difficult than joining in with the crowd at stoning the perpetrator.
Read the full blog article here
This question has both applications in the minutia and in the esoteric.
In the minutia of my morning routine I've learnt to think before I act by taking first time.
When I get to my desk, and before I open my laptop, I have a new habit of journaling before I do anything. Usually it's a question like the one above. The second thing I do is a sit with a pen and paper and write some thoughts of what comes to mind in the day ahead. I don't look at the previous days list I don't look at anything. I simply have a period of conscious flow.
These few minutes other ones where I have the most control over my day at this moment I can consciously decide what I'm going to do next. Now sure the day derails along the way but it takes longer for the derailment, and I have a reference point to go back to if I do feel off path.
Esoterically this question of consciousness is profound.
Thinking before acting is the greatest challenge. It's our subconscious efficiently trying to help us.
The subconscious was the first part of our brain which developed. It seems to resent having a new neighbour called the conscious. And, not the well-established neighbour, tries to dictate the way things are to the new boy.
But this new neighbour is educated and hard-working. It's almost the opposite version of its well-established neighbour. This new neighbour is unique and makes our whole neighbourhood different to others.
Humans are defined by our ability to rationalise. To nationalise is to make what-if decisions and simulations. The thing that differentiates us from all of the animals and species is our conscious ability to see our existence. In other words consciousness.
To be conscious is to be human. As opposed to being an amoeba. To be the best human I can be I need to utilise their skills as much as I can. Thinking before acting is exactly what it means to be human.
Let the subconscious habits first impressions. They are there for a reason. But very quickly recognise it is only a first impression and then put to work the power of rationalisation and in this process I am thinking before acting.
Read the full blog article here
Invincibility is a powerful word. It has connotations of Superman, of the ancient gods. To equate me with invincibility, or anything I do with invincibility seems ridiculous. And yet I feel like I am indeed cultivating invincibility of my power to choose. I noticed this through actions and decisions. I changed my diet just over one year ago. Only this morning one of my co-workers asked if I have ever had a cheat day. I replied that I haven't. I'm just one of those 'all in' kind of people. My diet is known as Keto, which involves almost 0 carbs, no fruit, and no grains. The results have been remarkable. This method of eating is the greatest practice of self discipline which, ultimately requires very little discipline. The more I practice the discipline, the easier it is. I now feel invincible in my diet and I am transferring it to other habits and deeper into my life. I am not a disciplined person by any stretch of the imagination, however the more discipline I practice, the less I require to use it. I'm also cultivating invincibility by understanding control. I'm now less bothered by outcomes. This means outcomes can't hurt me and to some extent that makes me invincible. In business, sure I'd love to win the deal but I know that I may not. In the past I know my figures were also due to low effort. Now I know I'm more disciplined and committed so it's less devastating when I fail and therefore I feel something closer to invincible. I'm not there yet and I may never get to invincibility. But I'd rather be closer to it than further away. I have the power to choose my discipline, and my effort. And those decisions get me closer to invincibility. “Remember that the ruling faculty is invincible, when self-collected it is satisfied with itself, if it does nothing which it does not choose to do, even if it resist from mere obstinacy". Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Book 8
Read the full blog article here.
How do you define success? Is success and external event or situation, or is it something dripping from within? I used to think that success was all about status and money and position and awards, but that didn’t work with me. Success comes from within. But I’m not talking about naval contemplation exercise to make you feel good even if you’ve failed. I’m talking about a more difficult way to feel successful but I longer lasting one.
Read the full blog article here
In colloquial language, to be clueless is to be ignorant, stupid, and have no idea about things. In colloquial language, to be clueless is to be ignorant, stupid, and have no idea about things.
To be clueless about things that don't matter is to be stoic. It means I shouldn’t engage in topics that don't matter and our outside of my control.
But ignorance is not an ill.
Being content is not the same as being happy.
To be content is to be at peace, and tranquility.
So being clueless about things that don't matter leads to tranquility because I’ll be less worried and distracted by frivolities and uncontrollable events.
But this comes at a price.
My ever-increasing Stoicism has led to indifference and it's seen as arrogance.
I can't help that. I am increasingly disconnected from trivia and gossip, but more engaged with the intellectual and conversations that matter to me.
So although I am calm on the inside, I appear to be disconnected at one extreme and then very connected at the other. To others it seems like I am living in extremes. But this is not the case. I'm actually only living in one part of the spectrum, that of connection.
In my own mind I completely disconnect with conversations that don't matter. Sure I smile and nod but my silence is palpable. To me I am just chilling out and waiting for the conversation to end. To others I may appear rude.
This is also happening at home. When the talk turns to gossip I am disconnected. Just the other night I had a conversation with my son and his girlfriend about the newest philosophies in teaching. The booking question is called Range, by David Epstein.
It's one of those books that makes you challenge what you otherwise believed to be true. These are the things that engage me, and talking about these thoughts help me become a better person, with more tools to lead a rational conscious life. I must thank Ryan Holliday for the tip.
Some people in the conversation switched off and even left the table. I think I was just too much for them. Now the challenge is to find environments where I can let my thoughts freewheel and go further.
I’m reminded by what Epictetus said.
“Let silence be your goal for the most part; say only what is necessary, and be brief about it. On the rare occasions when you’re called upon to speak, then speak, but never about banalities like gladiators, horses, sports, food and drink—common-place stuff. Above all don’t gossip about people, praising, blaming or comparing them.” – Epictetus
Read the full blog article here
Part (machine) transcription...
Today’s question or today’s diary question is what rulers do I measure myself against.The word ruler can have two meanings it could mean the king - what ruler do I measure myself against? What aspirational person do a measure myself again but when I first thought about this I thought of it in terms of a king or a master or secondly a ruler can be something to measure against.
On first reflection I took this to be a measurement thing, so what sort of measuring stick do I use my own life as a measuring stick I incorrectly measured myself against business success wealth and success of my kids also if my kids are successful unsuccessful now despite whatever we try to do and say if we look at that well if I look at this honestly I do Look at my kids success as being something that used to measure my own success as a father and is as a person and I know that’s wrong but deep deep down and I’m sure there are more of you out there that you think you know what deep down there is this some modicum of truth about that now obviously there’s business success as well....
I measure myself against myself now I’m going to twist it if I looked at the word ruler to mean master or someone superior to me in in some aspect of life then it could also be quite applicable to look at it that way now I’m not saying that I Measure my life against some person who of which I only see a snippet of their life but there might be actions there might be behaviours that there are some people that are doing e.g. mentors that for that particular instance can be something to aspire to so when I see a politician a skilled politician staying calm under a barrage of questions and in the middle of some sort of a scandal I had made up behaviour that their ability to stay calm under those circumstances to me is is remarkable and that is something I do aspire to I don’t aspire to be that person because I’m sure they’ve got their own dark spaces and I don’t know anything about their lives but I can aspire to certain behaviours that are an indicator of a higher level that I can attain myself in my life so it’s not so not to be confused It’s not about the person I don’t want to be like a Obama but I do want to be as calm as him under pressure or to be able to speak like him regardless of political persuasion.
I measure myself against imagine myself against myself and whether I’m doing the best I can do because I know that will get me to tranquility but I’m also measuring myself against other people whose specific behaviours are things that I can strive for and learn from Don’t confuse any of that with now that does sound a bit external but don’t confuse any of that with me measuring myself against other externalities like money and fame and fortune whatever it is however an eye that should not be the thing but the thing that trip to stop is it that’s the default position and that’s where Stokes got a recognise the thought process understand it and stop it and this Is a big part of what Stacys move but is about if it’s something comes out in the shadows you get immediately startled but then you processing your brain to say okay that’s not dangerous move on it’s the same as a lot of our emotions like last and anger they all things that pop up and we know they’re going to pop up recognise them and move on and let them go and it’s the same with these aspirational thoughts of all if I just get this deal if I get this car or look at the Joneses
From the blog article here.
If we break this sentence down, the first two things to tackle are what it means to live today and also to understand my principles.
To start living today implies that I'm not living today. I think the stoic argument for this is to say that whatever takes us off our path of virtue distracts us from living our best life.
Find the full blog article here.
What do we automatically hold true, and how to deal with unquestioned truths. Here’s a simple way you can identify them. #stoic #stoicleadershio #stoicism
Today I was confronted with an interesting question. What assumptions have I left unquestioned?
This sentence needs some deep thought.
After being posed the question, I wondered what falls in that category, if anything.
Unquestioned assumptions destroy our efficiency and clarity.
What do we assume to be correct?
What my parents told me?
The happiness of a wife, 2.3 kids, dog and cat?
That we need to plan for the long term?
That all publicity is good publicity?
That there must be winners and losers?
Says who? Why?
Where’s the proof?
One way to examine assumptions is to propose the opposite.
Is the opposite proposition equally true?
Can someone without the wife and 2.3 kids live a virtuous, happy and fulfilled life? If yes, then surely it must follow that a wife and 2.3 kids is not a pre-requisite to a virtuous, happy fulfilled life. Where does that leave the assumption?
Whoa Diary, that’s an interesting way to look at it.
In business, is it true that we need to plan 10 years out? Is it true we should pay people as little as possible?
Has any company ever succeeded doing to opposite to what we’ve unquestionably believed?
If yes, then the unquestioned assumption can't be correct.
At the same time, the assumption could be right. Well, kind of.
If you examine the facts deeply and the assumption holds true (the sun rises in the East), then the assumption becomes a fact.
For example, if we assume you need to earn more money than you spend, and logic shows it to be so, then the assumption disappears, it becomes a fact.
Dear Diary, an assumption proven to be correct becomes a fact and ceases to be an assumption. A factual assumption is an oxymoron.
The difference between fact and assumption (in this context) is that the fact is tested and proven, the assumption is just accepted.
Don’t be distracted with the trifling fluff of assumptions. Look at things directly, look them squarely in the eye and determine if they are assumptions, or fact. If it seems to be an assumption, prove it, otherwise dismiss it and unclutter your mind.
Question everything and don’t lose perspective.
Is it good or bad for a racetrack to be water-sodden the night before a big race? It depends. Does the horse love the mud, or a firm track? Most (but not all) prefer a solid track, but that doesn’t make it right. A wet track can’t be assumed to be bad.
Let me be more dramatic dear Diary. Is it good or bad to have a heart attack? It depends. Over the long term it may bring the family closer together and convince your overweight kids to get healthy and live longer, more prosperous life.
Yes, I am talking about finding a silver lining. But not about creating one, it’s there. There is sunshine behind every cloud.
Our assumptions are either incorrect in fact or perspective.
Banish your assumptions dear Diary.
Original Blog article here
In business and in life we are constantly distracted by frivolities and paranoia. He is a practical way Stoicism can teach leaders to combat these vices and get more productive. #stoicleadership #stoicism #leadership
We always talk about "gaining control", but has anyone ever posed the question about whether we should put more things 'out of our control?"
Putting things outside our control in both our personal and business life can have huge benefits.
#stoicism #stoic #stoicleadership
This episode resets my podcast to where it needs to be right now.
I've been grappling with meaning of life and consciousness for many year, but they missed practicality. The missing link is stoicism.
I'm bringing the three together through these podcast diaries and reflections which hopefully will also help others.
This second series is a video diary of my journey beginning with the announcement that I would be the 100% owner of my business.
It’s a warts and all accounts of what to do and what’s not to do in growing an existing business.
This is more of a business type of episode. I talk about the seven steps to preparing a retail business for Christmas. However these tips also apply to preparing Kids for a certain events, or just preparing ourselves for anything coming up in the future. It’s all about definition and measurements.
Pretty thrilled to do a nationwide radio interview recently. It's about mystery shopping, but more 1so about customer service in general. We covered a lot of ground in 10 minutes.
In this conversation we cover:
What is mystery shopping
The National Measurement Institute
Where customer surveys fail
Staff member indifference
How the public can make a little bit of difference
Please sell to me as a customer
The types of places that we mystery shop
Avoiding being scammed as a mystery shopper
This is the single biggest motivation tool in the world. I often hear leaders saying things like:
“I don’t know how much clearer I can be with my staff.”
The problem is, there is an important element missing.
How do you get to be top of mind in your industry?
If you are a #linkedin expert, will you be top of mind when someone needs LinkedIn help?
If you are a recruitment expert, are you the first thought of?
How do you get there?
When should you give up?
Is it when you run out of energy, motivation, or money?
Usually the reason we give him is because of how we compare ourselves to the very very best. And that’s a dangerous thing to do.
This short two minute podcast explains why there is plenty of room in the market for you to succeed even if you’re not the very very best.
Why do customers really leave? Dan Kennedy the "Sovereign of Sales Letters" thinks it not as obvious as we might think. I'd tend to agree. Customer leave for one of the following reasons: * 1% die (not much you can do there) * 3% move. Offline, this is because of geography; online, it’s because of shifting interests. * 5% switch to something else because of a friend’s recommendation. * 9% switch to a better product or service. The best way to fight this is to make sure your products, services, and offers are the best around. * 14% leave for general dissatisfaction. Again, it’s a good idea to trim the tribe, as you will never please everyone. All together, these five reasons only add up to 32%. Where are the rest?
In this podcast we discuss how to use empathy as a strategy
1:12 The problem we solve - understanding each other. Park our own assumptions. Doubling meal size doesn’t make a customer twice as happy.
2:27 Empathy is a marketing question. Getting in the heads of consumers.
5:43 Three things that drive decisions 1) rational brain 2) emotional drivers, and 3) context. Don’t judge others by what’s happening in your life.
11:00 How can a big system know contextual purpose and what they are seeing from the customer. Each individual has a huge responsibility.
12:33 How does an introvert serve an extrovert? At an individual level and organisational - processes that reinforce the ability to be empathetic.
13:39 Being consciously curious.
18:40 Step 1 Consciously curious (harder to do than to talk about). Step 2 - openly explore (not on your own perceptions) - a Bunnings (hardware chain) example of buying a drill bit. Don’t show how smart you are. Step 3 - Challenge my own beliefs Step 4 - Leading with empathy - create an amazing experience.
26:31 We are trying to create customer experiences in the most diverse world we’ve ever had. 100 years ago you didn’t need to deal with a Korean Australian walking into a coffee shop in Rome. We have to deal with immense diversity.
30:30 Empathy and purpose are not soft skills.
31:14 Using empathy to sell. A web developer example
35:52 Tying in purpose
37:15 A little story about why we need to train.
When you are grappling with purpose in work or life, keep in mind that time is irrelevant when it comes to purpose.
If your purpose has an element of time (next week, in a years time), then it's a goal, not a purpose.
Why do kids ride skateboards, fall over, graze themselves and keep going?
The risk/reward formula looks screwed up. All the risk and little reward.
Why do we gamble?
Why not just stay in bed? Isn't that the lowest risk?
You can lower your risk but never remove it. You can undertake risky behaviour the riskier the behaviour doesn't always give the higher rewards (e.g. gambling).
You can never predict outcomes
But risk is critical to being human. Don’t be any more scared of risks, as you are sure of outcomes.
How do you get an 18-year-old cashier to care. How do you get a labourer on a construction site to care? How do you get a CEO to care? How do you get a child to care?
All jobs have implications. Everything you do, no matter mundane has consequences.
Either you know the consequences of your actions, or you don’t. A little smile or a growl to a customer will influence your customer.
A small reckless action by a construction worker may unwittingly kill a workmate.
An immoral decision by a CEO may knowingly bankrupt an employee.
But that’s not the whole picture. What also matters is whether you care.
You may care about the consequences on the other person, or you may not.
The upshot is that everyone needs to know their actions matter, whether or not on purpose.
Purpose is not a precondition to consequences.
Did you really decide your last business decision?
Let's look at the decision to invest in a new office printer.
The decision to make a decision is not yours. The existing printer is simply getting unreliable. The printer triggered your need for a decision, not you.
OK so do I buy new or refurbished? You budget will decide that, not you.
Where should I buy it from? Corporate policy might decide that, or history, or you know someone who owns a stationery store. Maybe it was a facebook ad? But you couldn't control who placed the ad. The vendor decision is also out of your control.
OK which brand? maybe you go for name recognition. But you can't control which brand you recognise, not their reputation.
There are two similar options, which do you decide? You choose one but have no idea why. Was it the colour, shape, or just because the salesperson suggested it?
At no point along the way did "you" make the decision.
Give up the illusion of being in control. A decision will be made either way whether you agonise or not. The agony comes from ego and the illusion that"you" control your decisions.
Despite all the data you receive, the purchase of a printer, or even a merger/acquisition comes down to uncontrollable gut feel. #stress #decisions
In this podcast episode I return to my roots of customer service measurements.
What is a company like Tiffany's or emirates airlines do with a one star review?
How can you make this information purposeful.
Well, it depends on whether you are a store manager or a senior executive.
Don't be confused. Information is not wisdom.
I've heard a lot of people say things like "wisdom is everywhere" - thanks to the internet.
But wisdom is not information. T
he dictionary definition of wisdom says you need three things for wisdom.
2) Good judgement
Having information without experience, or experience without good judgement doesn't mean you have wisdom. The world sorely needs wisdom, I'm trying to share the little I have, and encourage you to do the same.
#purpose hashtag#wisdom hashtag#teaching
What's the purpose of customer surveys?
If you think it's to measure customer service you may want to re-consider.
Surveys measure what the customer thinks they thought.
Those thoughts can be wrong, and more importantly, they don't measure what makes you money.
There are 6 steps to making the move up from just selling on price.
The usual strategy is to get establishing in the market and move up. But there's more to it than that, and making the move may be the opposite of the traditional process.
This episode covers the sixth is required for any company to move from selling based on price through to selling based on value through to selling based on brand. The sixth step is purpose, and it becomes the North Star for the other five steps.
Judgement is a beautifully efficient evolutionary tool to help us make quick decisions. But it can get in the way of the "right" decision. Unlike most species, we have the benefit of also having a conscious mind which can override the sub-conscious. You may be hungry, but resist that piece of cake. Your conscious mind can resist the urges. And so it is in the rest of your life and business.
Read the full blog article here
The future of customer service is about intention. At the moment all service related inquiries, especially for machines are focused on answering questions. In the future computers will be able to judge your purpose and intention of a call or of an interaction. This will open the floodgates for next to instant servicing and hugely improved consistency and delivery of customer service
What's the difference between purpose and meaning in a business environment, and does it really matter.
Purpose is made.
Meaning is processed.
In this episode I'll be looking how the difference manifests in our personal lives as well as our business lives.
In terms of business I'll be looking at how it shows up in Companies like Google and how it will affect YOUR customers and staff.
In this episode we look at how to sell with meaning.
We all know you should sell with Features and benefits, but I'll suggest switching that around to take it up a notch.
Then we'll take it up another notch by incorporating meaning to the sales process.
Published on Anchor
Yes meaning can be found immediately. You just have to look in the places staring you in the face.
This podcast episode helps you find it immediately. No need to look.
Meaning can be found in everyday things and events, there’s no need to fret. Once you find meaning in the smaller things you can start pondering the bigger issues - if you wish
Ali and Todd are under a big tree talking about how they want to continue the fairytale long after the Bachelorette Australia finishes. Some of you will be nauseated by this whole concept. But there's an important message behind all these reality shows. The reality is hard to escape.
Sure the shows are there to sell shampoo ads and fried chicken product placements, but something deep is happening behind the veneer.
Two predictable things happen. One is an observation, and the other is the lesson.
This episode lays out the premise for the whole Podcast series.
In this episode I'll examine the critical role played by Purpose in all lives and all organisations.
Stakeholders and owners are pulling in one direction (often profit).
Staff area after careers, training and a good salary, putting them at odds with the owners.
Customers want the best value, often putting them at odds with both customers and staff.
Having a clearly defined purpose helps drive each of these parties in a similar direction. And the lessons learned also apply to our personal lives.
That’s what this Podcast is about
What is all this living stuff for?
We live; we die right?
We are overwhelmed with the feeling of having to “do something” with our lives.
Some people go through life completely lost, numbing themselves with distractions like drugs, joy, and sadness. Others (and it’s always others), seemingly have it all together.
But our lives will “do” just fine. We don’t need to help our life “do” anything any more than we need to help our lungs breathe. It will happen.
Now, because life has an ending, we try to “do” the most, or least we can.
Sometimes we try to maximise life by being the biggest, best, happiest, richest.
Sometimes we try to minimise everything by maximising solitude, rebellion, or melancholy.
We may even try to rebel and drop out, or just go along with our lives meandering like a cork in a stream. The measurement always seems to be what you are “doing” with you life, and to “get” the most out of it.
BUT WHO SAID THERE HAS TO BE MEANING?
Your life has to have no more meani