Stoicism as your operating system?

Get on with it.

A friend of mine is an imagineer, philosopher and strategic consultant. Every now and then he does Marcus Aurelius sessions. I was at one of those and I can honestly say it changed my life. This books could change yours.

Stoicism as an operating system

Marcus Aurelius is part of the Stoics. Which should be the operating system of every entrepreneur. This is why “The obstacle is the way” should be compulsory reading for every entrepreneur, CEO, student, jobseeker. Heck, everyone should read this. You are going soft. Bad things will happen.

An antidote to learned helplessness

Moving from “learned helplessness” to mastering a toolset that deals with everything that life and business will throw at you. It has touches of “33 strategies of war” and “Mastery” by Robert Greene. It has touches of “Antifragile” by Nassim Taleb. It has touches of “Coherence” by Alan Watkins. Touches of “Killing Giants” by Stephen Denny. And touches on “Poke the box” and the “Icarus Deception” by Seth Godin. These are some of our favourite authors and books in Bookbuzz. Applied across leadership, resilience, strategy and management.

3 disciplines

What you need are 3 disciplines. The discipline of perception, the discipline of action and the discipline of will. Discipline and mastery being the operative words. Extreme reality therapy. Fear is a choice. Inaction is choice. How you feel about things is a choice. Everything is a choice. Get on with it.


“Choose not to be harmed, and you won’t feel harmed. Don’t feel harmed and you haven’t been” Marcus Aurelius.

The art of not panicking

Good or bad are perceptions. Observing and perceiving are two different things. The perceiving eye is weak, the observing eye is strong. Perspective is everything. Be aware of context and framing. Emotions colour your perception. What was the main skill they trained astronauts? The art of not panicking. Straight from “Coherence”.

Perception is reality

Perception determines what we are and they determine reality itself. Straight from “The secret”. Ryan Holiday likes entrepreneurs. In his view, entrepreneurs create their own reality. They make something that was not there before. They perceive thing differently.

What is up to us, what is not up to us

A lot of things you cannot control. They are what they are. You do control your choices. Actions define the person. And you can only move in the now. That is why lots of entrepreneurs start in a recession. It is not about yesterday for entrepreneurs. They only deal with the situation at hand. Paying the bills, getting the sales. Which is quite liberating if you think about it. If you are not into starting your own business, other ways to get you in the present are exercise, meditation or getting a dog.


Be a shark

In life, it does not matter what happens to you or where you came from. It matters what you do with it. Doing nothing should never be an option. Like a shark, you need to keep moving. The book gets something of “Being a fierce competitor” at this stage. Could you do more, move faster? You probably could. So what are you wasting your time on Facebook for? Aggression is a good thing. Barreling forward is a good thing. Taking risks is a good thing.


Mastery pops up again. Craft. The 10,000 hours. Achieving excellence. Working hard. Persistence. Looking for angles instead of angels. No running home to mummy. Get on with it.


An action is linked to tactics and strategy and here is where you could be reading Robert Greene. Blitzkrieg. Flank attack. Gandhi. In only 6 0f the 280 campaigns studies was a decisive victory a result of a direct attack on the enemy’s main army. That is 2%. There are lots of other angles.

Scenario planning

In, we talk about scenario planning. Part of the doing is imagining what could happen. Imagining the worse. And plan accordingly. And if it does happen (and sometimes it does), use the event as a catalyst for change.


Mental athletes

Last but not least. Will is an internal power that can never be affected by the outside world. You control will completely. Some fantastic quotes here;

  • “No one is born with a steel back one, we have to forge that ourselves”.
  • “We craft our strength through physical exercise and our physical hardiness through mental practice”.
  • “A sound mind in a sound body”.

Again scenario planning is mentioned. Becoming mental athletes. Prepare for the worst. And accept what is coming. The art of acquiescence. Que sera, sera, what will be, will be.

Get on with it

Coping with it tough determination, persistence and perseverance. Persistence is an action, perseverance is a matter of will. Getting on with it. No one else is to blame when you throw in the towel.


Mortality is the ultimate obstacle. Once you accept that, you can deal with anything. Use that in your scenario planning.

Wake up call

Definitely not a book of what the author calls “gushing, hazy optimism”. A wake-up call. A recipe for dealing with hardship and crisis. And delivering (and this is what makes this book special), an operating system for the difficulties and hardships of life.

No excuses any more. Get on with it.


sensemaking cover


Sense making; morality, humanity, leadership and slow flow. A book about the 14 books about the impact and implications of technology on business and humanity.

Ron Immink

I help companies by developing an inspiring and clear future perspective, which creates better business models, higher productivity, more profit and a higher valuation. Best-selling author, speaker, writer.

2 thoughts on “Stoicism as your operating system?”

  1. Ron: any time I’m in the rare company of The Emperor, I’m happy! Have been a fan of Meditations for ages and find it, as well as the letters of Seneca, to be hugely inspirational. Now I’ll have to go find my much dog-eared favorite translation… it’s here somewhere…

    Thanks again!


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