Philosophy is something that has inhabited many forms and applications since ancient times. Yet, though philosophical tools were helpful to our ancestors, many have lost such wisdom today. Philosophy is dense and intimidating. However, once we crack the code there are lessons for us to learn today.
You may have heard of Stoicism once or twice, or maybe you have studied its philosophies and are no longer a novice. Maybe you have yet to approach Stoicism or any other ancient philosophical way of thinking for that matter.
Stoicism was founded in 3000 BCE, with influence from Socrates, and has been a key topic of debate amongst intellectuals and academics since its creation. Stoicism, founded on four core principles calls for perseverance, part of why its been so widely accepted and why we can learn from it today. And, no, stoicism doesn’t have to be the emotionless attitude we often think of when we think of stoicism.
If we get smart, we can use aspects of stoicism to our advantage when we think about entrepreneurship today. Specifically, the four virtues of Stoicism, courage, temperance, justice, and wisdom provide an adaptable and beneficial framework for entrepreneurs.
Speaking mainly for itself, courage is very important in entrepreneurship. Courage calls for bravery to make decisions and confidence in the product or service that you are creating. Entrepreneurship requires the ability to take risks and the willingness to make decisions that may be frightening.
Despite the importance of risk-taking and bravery, the virtue of temperance plays an essential role in terms of balancing your approach. Temperance calls for moderation and habit building. Practicing this virtue means balancing your courage and risk-taking by not overworking and pushing yourself over the edge.
On a greater level, is also an important aspect of entrepreneurship. As you are creating your product or service, it is crucial to keep your intentions in mind. Ask yourself if your brand is serving the greater good. Keep your mind open to how you can reduce harm whether it be through packaging, sourcing, or the message you are sending. The virtue of justice reminds us to always keep our greater communities in mind and provides for a reflection on our contribution to society.
Finally, the fourth virtue of Stoic philosophy is wisdom, the combination of knowing, learning, and experiencing. The virtue of wisdom reminds us to never stop being a student in our lives. Regardless of how much of an expert you may believe yourself to be, there is always more to learn and experience. As an entrepreneur, it is crucial to stay humble and open to making mistakes that you will ultimately learn from.
Though the majority of ancient philosophical works represent some of the most inaccessible knowledge, and these big ideas can be hard to digest, once we break it down there’s a lot we can learn from. Entrepreneurs needn’t necessarily cite Plato from memory, but growing and adapting and building a business requires constant new knowledge. Stoicism can teach us a lot about how to find success. And no, entrepreneurs don’t have to become cold and emotionless, that isn’t what we’re talking about. Finding the small areas where we can benefit from implementing new strategies is what Philosophy and entrepreneurship are all about.
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