Ancient Wisdom: Still as True Today, and in the Future

In life our first job is this, to divide and distinguish things into two categories: externals I cannot control, but the choices I make with regard to them I do control. Where will I find good and bad? In me, in my choices” – Epictetus

Greek philosophers teach us a lot and it is said that many renowned leaders around the world have based their approach in leadership, self-improvement and learnings through these philosophers. The big 3 includes Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, each having their own wisdom in certain areas: Socrates for his questioning and humble nature in his wisdom; Plato for his ideology in the good of mankind and governance; Aristotle for his thoughts on happiness.

In the world of stoics, we would have come across the name Epictetus every now and then. The most important lesson that I believe will benefit us in any era or stages of our lives, will be his wisdom on the wielding the power we all possess – the power of choices.

It is not me, it is them…

The blame game, one that allows us to indulge in self-pity or being the victim in certain situations, is often played in all walks of life. It is a natural tendency, to bend during stressful situations, easing ourselves so as to allow more room to breathe or making other accountable for certain mistakes.

A reputable leader or one that earns his/her respect from others, requires the courage and maturity to take up the responsibilities despite any undesirable situation, simply because leaders are tasked with the responsibility of their people. Jocko Willink and Leif Babin exhibited this concept extremely well in their book Extreme Ownership, being in a constantly stressful environment where life and death may just be around the corridor. Taking ownership, is definitely not easy. I too, face situations where I felt in every single cell that it’s not my fault. Yet, I chose to apologise and take the responsibility in making things better.

“Someone is in trouble! Wait, let me seek opinions online…”

Social media these days bring across much more information and news. Some of them makes us feel the positivity in life, the tickling of our funny bone, but many of those that draws way much more attention, are those that cause us to feel edgy and extremely concerned about what the hell is happening around the world?!

The truth is, backed up by studies by John Cacioppo, that we humans are naturally biased towards negativity. The idea of being positive requires a huge amount of discipline and determination, because we may subconsciously be attracted to news and events that evoke the negativity in us. In this era where things get uploaded online before I even finish my coffee, we sit behind a screen and start hurling comments without responsibility or even understanding the impact on how things may go forward. Comments, a reaction to a certain event or when just a simple share button was clicked, puts many in a quick launch mentality in hopes for more views and more likes.

Inaction, on the other hand, may not be any better. It all boils down to the situation. The infamous United Airlines incident, creates an uproar on social media. Such abuse should definitely be shared to avoid consumers from continuing their support for an irresponsible brand. But the sadder part of the incident, is why do we see so many people just standing around not doing anything at all?

Ryan Holiday shares his sentiments, and I believe it speaks nothing but the truth about the need for more do-ers and braver souls who stands up for what is right despite the situation and not for the number of shares or likes on social media. We need people like this ever more than before. And for a start, I need to be one – I need to act on what is needed of me, and I need to step in whenever the need arises.

Ancient? Maybe.

We have the most advanced technology, sophisticated hardwares, exquisite items, and yet the things we need most, that are most resounding, still lies in ancient wisdom from people that are centuries old. Because well, they still make a lot of sense after so many centuries.

Be it the blame game, the standing up for something we see should be done right, the offering of our seats to someone who needs more, the reaction we developed from a stranger’s negative remarks, a simple question to ask for something instead of posting his/her pictures online and cooking a story on it, is a matter of choice. We chose, and that’s why, be it good or bad, it is ultimately up to us.

It is no longer them, but me.

Today, let us all make the choice on who we want to be.

Be the change you wish to see in the world” – Mahatma Gandhi

God bless, and have a wonderful, marvellous week ahead!

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