Is Self-leadership Modern Stoicism for Success?

The philosophy of stoicism offers profound life lessons that remain relevant today, guiding individuals through personal and professional challenges. Integrating stoicism with self-leadership strategies is a powerful way to live a successful life.

Far from being a thing of the past philosophy is as relevant today as it ever was. In an era of disinformation, we must hone our critical thinking skills, and as AI becomes more integrated into our work, we must gain clarity on what it takes to be human.

In this blog, we will look at how stoicism gets upgraded to a modern context, and how you can apply it to your success.

The first Stoic

Zeno of Citium, in modern-day Cyprus, was the first stoic philosopher. He shared his ideas for a path to a well-lived life near the end of the 4th century BC.

Zeno himself lived a life far removed from what we would call success today. Shunning possessions, and living unwashed in the street, he would be considered a lunatic by today’s standards.

Zeno and the later more famous stoics, Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius believed that the practice of four virtues, wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice are required to achieve eudaimonia: a well-lived life

Like stoicism, self-leadership is a practice. It is the practice of intentionally influencing your thinking, feelings, and actions toward your objectives (Bryant and Kazan 2012).

Stoicism provides a philosophical foundation that emphasizes endurance, temperance, and the pursuit of wisdom. Self-leadership builds on these virtues, focusing on practical strategies for self-awareness, self-regulation, self-motivation, and learning.

Self-awareness and the Power of Perception

Epictetus, a former slave turned stoic philosopher, famously said,

 "It's not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters."

This quote encapsulates the Stoic belief in focusing on our responses to external events rather than the events themselves. Epictetus's teachings highlight the significance of perception and the role it plays in our happiness and resilience.

Developing self-awareness is a pillar of self-leadership. We must learn to catch our reactions to things and examine our perceptions and biases.

We are all dealt a hand of cards, but it’s not the cards it’s how we play them that determines our success.

The Importance of Self-regulation

Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, penned meditations that serve as personal reminders of Stoic philosophy, such as:

"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength." 

Aurelius's words remind us of the importance of self-regulation or self-discipline.

By governing our thoughts and actions, and choosing our internal narratives, we can maintain our tranquility and effectiveness, even in the face of adversity.

Self-leaders are therefore more effective, efficient, and more resilient than those who do not practice self-regulation. Self-regulation is the fuel for personal power.

The Value of Self-learning

Seneca, another prominent Stoic philosopher, emphasized the preciousness of time.

"It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested," 

This perspective encourages us to use our time wisely, focusing on what truly matters and contributes to our personal growth and well-being. In self-leadership, we call this self-learning. It is important to invest in becoming the best version of ourselves.

Defining Your Own Success

For the stoics, success was a well-lived life and for self-leadership, it is becoming the best version of yourself.  Both of these definitions are about being rather than doing, or having.

We certainly live in a material world and the right school, house, car, and job are established markers of success but cracks in this model are showing. The great resignation showed us that people are prepared to give up on corporate climbing for a more balanced life, and new entries to the workplace are looking for more meaningful work, and development as well as advancement.

Living a life of wisdom, courage, moderation, and justice, now seems like a modern philosophy rather than an ancient one.

As a Global Keynote Speaker on Self-leadership, I like to share some stoic philosophy with my audiences, you find out more on my website.






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