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Realize your innate potential like the Stoics

I'm a fan, perhaps even a devotee, of Stoic philosophy. A recent article from Ryan Holiday, 50 Very Short Rules for a Good Life From the Stoics,  caught my eye. It got me thinking about mapping the Stoics 50 rules to my Skills Studio Framework, the nine critical skills to realize your innate potential.

I'm generally not a supporter of long lists of anything, let alone rules that we should follow. However, in this case, Ryan has taken an enormous body of work and tried to condense it into a list that is an accessible and helpful summary.

I liked Ryan's rules and thought it would be an interesting exercise to map his 50 rules to my set of rules or guides to personal development.  My Skills Studio Framework is the platform on which people of all ages can build a successful life.

I've kept Ryan's numbering because it might be helpful to see how he prioritizes his list. My allocation of the 50 Stoic traits is likely subjective and likely imperfect. What is clear is that the majority, 21 of the 50 traits, fit with my Life-Skill of "Self Management." Not a surprise because that was the focus of the Stoics, how to live a virtuous life, maximize happiness and reduce negative emotions.

Each of my nine Life-Skills has three key elements, prefaced with ~, to assist the reader in appreciating the key attributes of each Life-Skill.

Here's how the 50 Stoic rules fit with the 9 Life-Skills.

Life-Skill: Listener

~ reflects understanding

~ asks open questions

~ participates to learn

7. Remember, you have the power to have no opinion.

13. Two ears, one mouth for a reason.

20. Learn something from everyone.

27. Every person is an opportunity for kindness.

30. Find one thing that makes you wiser every day.

Life-Skill: Writer

~ learns the craft

~ understands the audience

~ engages through stories

33. Study the lives of the greats.

36. Journal.

38. Look for the poetry in ordinary things.

Life-Skill: Persuader

~ uses rapport & empathy

~ establishes trust

~ leverages Agency

Marcus Aurelius reminded himself and now us, "Waste no more time talking about what defines a good man. Be one."

Note: I didn't think any of the Stoics 50 rules were an excellent match to the Life-Skill of Persuader; however, the quote above from Marcus Aurelius was a perfect fit.

Life-Skill: Self-Manages

~ ethical and moral code

~ interested and interesting

~ recognizes Kairos moments

1. Focus on what you can control.

2. You control how you respond to things.

5. Value time more than money and possessions.

6. You are the product of your habits.

8. Own the morning.

10. Don't suffer imagined troubles.

12. Never be overheard complaining—even to yourself.

14. There is always something you can do.

15. Don't compare yourself to others.

16. Live as if you've died and come back (every minute is bonus time).

17. "The best revenge is not to be like that." —Marcus Aurelius

28. Say no (a lot).

32. Don't judge other people.

39. To do wrong to another is to do wrong to yourself.

40. Always choose "alive time."

43. Fate behaves as she pleases, do not forget this.

44. Possessions are yours only in trust.

45. Don't make your problems worse by bemoaning them.

46. Accept success without arrogance; handle failure with indifference.

49. Ego is the enemy.

50. Stillness is the key.

Life-Skill: Resilient

~ practices optimism

~ perseveres under pressure

~ service over rewards

4. Meditate on your mortality every day.

34. Forgive, forgive, forgive.

37. Prepare for life's inevitable setbacks.

47. Courage. Temperance. Justice. Wisdom. (Always).

Life-Skill: Collaborator

~ honorable and honest

~ consciously lifts others

~ promotes diversity

18. Be strict with yourself and tolerant of others.

11. Try to see the good in people.

29. Don't be afraid to ask for help.

31. What's bad for the hive is bad for the bee.

41. Associate only with people that make you better.

42. If someone offends you, realize you are complicit in taking offense.

Life-Skill: Entrepreneurial

~ steps into the unknown

~ takes on challenges

~ thinks and acts decisively

22. Define what success means to you.

24. Seek out challenges.

26. Grab the "smooth handle."

35. Make a little progress each day.

Life-Skill: Analytical

~ validates assumptions

~ symptoms vs. problems

~ applies Five-Why method

3. Ask yourself, "Is this essential?"

19. Put every impression and emotion to the test before acting on it.

21. Focus on process, not outcomes.

48. The obstacle is the way.

Life-Skill: Creative

~ explores with curiosity

~ challenges the status quo

~ hangs art on the wall

9. Put yourself up for review. Interrogate yourself.

23. Find a way to love everything that happens.

25. Don't follow the mob.

My nine Life-Skills aren't prioritized the way Ryan prioritized his 50 Stoic Rules because people need to think about what's important and decide where they want to focus. I believe that all nine skills are equally important and deserving of your conscious effort to develop and apply each skill.

A further comment is regarding the skill of "Persuasion." If I were to arrange the nine skills in the Life-Skills Framework in order of importance, then "Persuasion" would be at the top of the list. Importantly, however, you won't be a compelling persuader if you don't master the other eight skills.

About the Author:

Greg Twemlow is a Sydney-based Social Enterprise Founder | Startup Mentor | CEO | Writer | Speaker | Designer at the Skills Studio

 

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