Marcus Aurelius, as all the Stoics did, practices thinking of fame and high office as something to be put in its correct place, rather than something of importance. Even ambition itself to them is seen as something to be avoided. Why is ambition seen as good in our society now? Presumably, it was in Roman times too, which is why the Stoics had to practice avoiding it.
If you are an ambitious male, it is probably an attractive trait to your partner. Can you work towards anything in the future without ambition? If we are to despise the future and embrace the present, then surely, we would never even move from our current place of rest.
It is easy to see why courting fame should not be seen as a good thing. All your freedoms will be gone. All your money wasted in the premiums of privacy just to get the same liberties as anyone else. Paying thousands per night for a hotel room that you are then trapped in. Unable to go to the shops to get some mil without being pursued.
But what of more noble ambitions? What of calling? Marcus also laments of himself being lazy staying in bed. If he has no ambition or ambition is bad, then why is staying in bed so bad? Is working towards something bad? The work itself is in the present. Only taking the mind too far into the future is undesirable as it takes away from actually doing the work.
Great ambitions, those that run away with a person, to win at all costs, those are easier to see that they should be avoided. But to want to be the best version of yourself? Surely there can be no better ambition. The only better one perhaps is to help others as much as possible but to do that we must look after ourselves first.
There is lots online about the Navy Seal 40% rule. When you think you are done, you are only 40% done and there is lots more you can give.
I ran a 10k race on Sunday and was at a fine pace all the way through not to bother me. Not going for a quick time, just jogging around and chatting with friends. I have done half marathons before and my friends have done full marathons and ultra-marathons. The 10k distance should have been a nice jog all the way around, but we all found that just seeing that 9km marker made it instantly harder. Your mind starts to say, 'come on only another 1km to go, push on through.' My body started to tense, and I found myself willing myself to get to the finish line. Before seeing the sign that we only had 1km to go, everything was fine - I could have gone on for ages. If I had not seen the sign I know, as I have done hard marathons, that I can do about double the distance at the same pace. Knowing that I was near the end caused my mental process to get interrupted, my body to react and everything got more difficult.
Training where you do not know where the end will be is mentally tough. This is what they train for in the special forces and this is the right training to do.
Where in life do you know where the end is? Only in manufactured environments. School - exam. Race - finish line. Work - clocking off time.
Real life, the middle bit in-between your twenties until you die does not have clearly marked waypoints. You know neither whether you are headed in the right direction or how long you will be out here for. Not much trains you effectively for this apart from Stoicism. Having the mental capacity to keep going and doing the right thing is the thing that life demands but is not formally taught. Unless you seek it out and push yourself you might be able to keep going, but are you going in the right direction. Or you might be going in the right direction and give up before you get there.
Because it is personal. Other people do not know your goals or where you want to get to. Plus, are they much better than you? Do they have their own shit together? Are they saving enough for retirement? Are they working on multiple streams of income? Are they seeing their husbands and kids enough?
Even if so, do you trust them to put you first, or are they giving you things to work on that will benefit them rather than you? Even if, and that it's a big if to get to this point, all the above is true or irrelevant, are they any good at assessing what change will make a difference for you?
You can waste a lifetime trying to change based on other people's feedback, only to get conflicting feedback when your boss changes, you move department or change company to a different culture.
Gary Vee, as always, has a great way of thinking about other people's opinions in that he cares deeply what other people think and at the same time does not care at all.
How I see this is to care enough to listen but not to let it overcome who you are. You need other people's feedback to become self-aware but should not accept it carte-blanche or to act on it before assessing if you want to change in that area.
If Janet says you are too loud, it is not to be crippled by the thought, 'everyone thinks I am too loud, I need to be quieter.' It is just simply knowing, 'hmm, in the past, some people have found me too loud in certain circumstances. Do I want to work on this or not?'
It is okay to not have an opinion. Why busy yourself with trivia? There is someone in my extended family that knows lots of general knowledge and has appeared on and won a number of particularly difficult TV quiz shows. But even to look at him, it is clear that knowledge is not helping him. He is massively overweight. How can someone "intelligent" that has the ability to retain knowledge let himself get that way?
Is he actually intelligent at all? A conversation with this man is, at its most benign, a bore and, at its most frustrating, a series of one-upmanship about a random subject of his choosing. Who cares? Just ask Siri, Alexa, Google. How much longer are humans going to be praised for just remembering things and regurgitating them in computer like fashion?
Hint, in the real world - not long. In school, probably much longer than is useful or necessary.
The only way to be able to accumulate value (wealth) is to give value. If your main source for income is solely predicated on how much you know, how much you remember, on which rules people should be following, then you will soon lose your income to a cheaper human or ultimately to a computer.
With globalisation and the internet, it is easy and much cheaper to employ a version of you in Eastern Europe, India or Thailand (currently). The countries will change, but the trend will not. Work will move country by country and what will you do? Soon anything that is "unskilled" enough will be done by computers and systems entirely. And unskilled is not factory workers, they have already gone. This will be accountants, lawyers, admin assistants. Why do we need humans for these jobs? Just feed in the right stuff and the right stuff will come out the other end.
You are the average of the five people you most closely associate. This is timeless wisdom that has come up again and again. But what if you are stuck? Stuck in a small town. Stuck in a job. Stuck with your family.
What if there are no inspirational people around? What if the five people that you spend the most time with are complete fuck-tards that you will never learn anything from?
You still have choices.
Stuck in a small town? Move.
Stuck in a job? Leave.
Stuck with your family? Don't visit them; ignore them; practice being tolerant.
If none of these is palatable, remember that we have lots of books accumulated over the course of history and... guess what, it is 2018 and we have the internet. You can surround yourself with virtual mentors who will teach you to think differently than your contemporaries.
Thinking differently can be dangerous. The people you currently have around you might not like that you are trying to better yourself. Well, if it was easy, everyone would do it. Did you think rising to the top would be easy? Just because you want it, doesn't mean they are going to give it to you.
Forget about your current five people and focus on your new five virtual mentors. Work on yourself, your compassion, forgiveness, tolerance. They didn't come into this town, into this job today, or into your life trying to be fuck-tards. How can you help them to help you get to where you want to be?
Some people are hard to change, and you will at some point likely need to break free from them. But at least try. If someone is hurting you to the point that it is stopping you improving yourself then whether temporary or permanently, you need to take a break from them.
This could just be in one area of your life too. Have negative parents? Well they probably mean well so rather than cutting them out of your life, just don't talk to them about that risky venture they will probably disapprove of. What's their issue and what's yours?
This distinction grabbed my attention in a post from @thefabulousjourney
Nothing is as hard as math in high school. Not much else in your life after that requires learning alien concepts.
The rest of your life is solely about putting in the effort.
It is not hard to do the work, it is just working 'hard'. Although there is really no 'hard' about it. It is just being consistent and not giving up.
The only person that can make you fail is you. By quitting.
Whether someone is overly loud or overly quiet, the cause is usually the same.
Lack of self-confidence.
It is just that the loud person appears more confident than the quiet one.
Whichever one you are, the key to success is always to keep working on yourself. And keep trying until you have developed sufficient self-confidence to succeed.
Consistency is king
Ordinary things when done consistently produce extraordinary results
"I tried" means you gave up. If you didn't give up it's a habit. Habits work and you would be there already.
Keep on keepin' on.
As I write this, the UK is waking up to the result of the election that is not as clear cut as some thought.
Maybe the general election results not what you expected. Or maybe they are what you expected. Either way, what are you going to do today that is different from yesterday?
Does it really matter who is in power? Does it really matter what the taxes are? What are you going to do differently or the same?
Are you going to use any changes to add to your growing excuses list? Are you really able to time the market? I say, do what you dream to do and let all the hot air blow around you.
‘Doing’ can make you more robust than any change in power or policy.
Think about the people who bemoan the NHS. Many of them could probably afford to use the increase in personal allowance to get private healthcare (only about £400 per year)?
People who think the government borrows too much? Well, how much personal debt are they in? If the government is fragile, better make your own finances robust and start saving more.
Taxes going up so you'll be worse off? You can always earn more money, save more money. Or you could watch Netflix and complain on Facebook.
Of course, if you really don't like the result, you always have the opportunity to move. But before you do, take chance to be grateful for what you already have. Would you complain less in Syria, North Korea or Somalia?
If you live in the UK you already have it good. There may be people that have more than you, there may be people that have less than you.
Stop complaining and either accept it or do something. There is nothing else.
Any "profession" is rule-based and exam based. Therefore, can be better done by a computer or someone with the same rules that will work for less money than you.
Since the industrial revolution, jobs have gone to machinery, robotics and assembly lines of the cheapest paid worker. Why would it not? There is literally no value in the alternative.
The good advice then was to get a profession and education was the way out and the way up. Now the same thing is happening to office workers. Automation, machine learning, the internet. All much cheaper, more efficient and more effective than humans. But only humans who phone it in, who do the bare minimum, that despise interaction.
Choose a job that is eminently human. Connection, caring, innovation. Those are the jobs for life now, not accountants or traders or production line operators.
The world is changing. And you can either be on the right or wrong side of it. Whilst others are drinking in the middle of the day bemoaning the government, you could be starting a business, learning to sell, building a network.
Remember there is money to be made when the market drops. Circumstance does not matter if you win either way.