The ‘Final’ Stoic 10!

Accountability Happiness Purpose


Key Point: The maxims of modern stoicism are timeless and perhaps priceless. I believe that in another 2,000 years from now they will still be referred to. In addition to previous blogs referencing Marcus Aurelius’ “what’s in the way, is the way,” as promised, I’m going to share my 10 favorite stoic principles.

  1. “Rehearse death. To say this is to tell a person to rehearse his freedom. A person who has learned how to die has unlearned how to be a slave.” – Seneca.

The New York Times recently published an article about the benefit of meditating on our death. “Paradoxically, this meditation on death is intended as a key to better living. It makes disciples aware of the transitory nature of their own physical lives and stimulates realignment between momentary desires and existential goals. In other words, it makes one ask, ‘Am I making the right use of my scarce and precious life?’” When we face the inevitability of death head on, we are more intentional and fearless about where we invest our time (Hint: NOT TV, Internet, or social media). 

  1. “Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” – Seneca.

I love the idea of being able to learn from the past, but more importantly, wiping the board clean and restarting a new life every day!

3, “If a person doesn’t know to which port they sail, no wind is favorable.” – Seneca.

Find and define with specificity your life’s purpose. (Hint: Helping others). 

  1. “If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”Marcus Aurelius.

We have way more choice about how we choose to feel about things that happen in life than we often realize. The ability to choose is so freeing!

  1. “True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient.” – Seneca.

This is about the power of living in the present, and the joy of being content about who we are while still being aspirational in our commitment to grow and improve.

  1. “Were I a nightingale, I would act the part of a nightingale; were I a swan, the part of a swan.” – Epictetus.

This maxim reinforces the authenticity of accepting who we are. Each of us has a wonderful uniqueness and our humanity in that context makes us very real.

  1. “The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach. A wise man is content with his lot, whatever it may be, without wishing for what he has not.” –Seneca. 

Our mind is not who we are. As the modern philosopher Eckhart Tolle notes: “Our mind often wants to take us to the past or future.” Our happiness is most attainable by living in the present and happiness is deceptively elusive if we chase, “when.” Be happy “now,” not “when.”

  1. “The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius.

I noted this in a previous blog. We are precisely what we think.

  1. “Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them.” – Epictetus.

This refers to the power of how we think about things. We often socially construct reality by the way we choose to frame a situation. Create stories that are real and based on self-honesty.

  1. “He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” –  Epictetus.

This maxim reinforces the concept of each of us being enough. We are content that each of us is good enough while legitimately having a growth mindset to become more. It’s a wonderful paradox. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Allow yourself to marinate on the stoic maxims and apply your own interpretation. Appreciate the wisdom of sages and ages!
  1. Living a life with purpose involves making life better for human kind. And I believe the above maxims have permanence because they reinforce that premise. In the end, our life is defined by giving of ourselves to others. Stoicism shines an ancient yet forward light on the path!

10 in The Triangle,


One Millennial View: 


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These days, most are probably interested in sprinting as far as possible from the ideologies of Gladiator days, but more and more, it seems people are obsessed with the “when” factor instead of appreciating the “now.” Also, I deeply believe how we can choose to make the best of what’s currently happening is a key to happiness. These old guys had a few things right.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

A Leadership ‘Factomatic!’

Management Organizational culture Respect


Key Point: In most organizations, leadership has come a long way over the last the last 30 years. However, sometimes it’s worth reviewing the guidance given to leaders in the not too distant past… Let’s say, 1984. That’s when “The Supervisor’s Factomatic” was published. It was a serious training guide for supervisors in organizations. Our company probably used it too, because we found it by accident in the archives. I want to share some headings and direct quotes from the manual, a very detailed, 490 page long treatise:

  1. How to pirate good people to your shop.
  2. Putting goof offs and gold bricks to work.
  3. Catching and educating Mr. Foul Ball.
  4. How to control employees who don’t keep their hands to themselves.
  5. How to use politics as a supervisory tool.
  6. Beware of the expert, he can cause trouble.
  7. How to defend illogical company policies.
  8. Why you should be seldom satisfied with work.
  9. How to make a subordinate lose face.
  10. How to say “no” in order to improve leadership.

These verbatim headings are my top 10 favorites. However, I must tip my hat to a few superb honorable mentions: “Handling employee complaints about air conditioning,” (hint…dispense free soda from the cafeteria). “Keeping beer off the premises,” and of course that everlasting issue of “reducing time wasted on pesky salesmen.” My favorite specific advice though, is an honest to goodness quote: “Sometimes a supervisor has to be a S.O.B… He has to say ‘no’ to an employee request even though ‘yes’ is a more sensible answer.” Yup, it’s there on 6-8, page 317, with one justification being “employees are likely to take less for granted.” Holy Cow! I guess that was leading edge supervisor training in 1984.

In fairness to the authors, there is likely some reasonably good advice somewhere in the 400 pages? And frankly, since my blogs are digital and essentially permanent, I wonder if 30 years from now someone is going to pull up one or more of my blogs and snicker at “what this ‘Mr. Foul Ball’ was saying in 2016.” I guess the good news is that we will have progressed.

Character Moves:

  1. Many of the leadership principles espoused by the great stoics (bet you didn’t think I could link this blog back to stoicism, haha) have stood for 2,000 years. Establishing mental models, and a framework based on their maxims, have the benefit of being scrubbed by the ultimate quality test; time. They do not go out of favor based on circumstances or generations. The next and final blog on Modern Stoicism will summarize 10 Stoic principles that I find helpful… You may too.
  1. In the meantime, apply these useful reminders as inspired by the 1984 Supervisor’s Factomatic: Keep the air conditioner working, DO bring beer into the work place, keep your hands to yourself (not too much), and avoid being a pesky sales “man.”

Modern Leadership Factomatic in the Triangle,


One Millennial View: This is hilarious. It’s telling, and a great example of the progress we continue to make as a society (hey, 2016 isn’t THAT bad)! This reminds me of an old Schlitz beer ad from the 1950’s that showcases a husband returning from work, his wife crying over the stove, while the copy reads “Don’t worry darling, you didn’t burn the beer.” I mean… Could you imagine if Bud Light ran that during Super Bowl 50? The spokesperson would be tarred, feathered, and fired on CNN after delivering an apology to an outraged public. But instead of burying these in the past, it’s great to shine a light on some of these dated views, because in my mind at least, it helps us quickly learn almost as much what “not” to do as they originally intended to teach in the first place.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis