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How Stoicism helps to run a company

Background

I got started with Stoicism when I went through a rough patch in life and I've been applying it forever since, in life and in work.

Example

I failed last Sunday to post on IH even tho that's what I wanted to do, post once every week about a random topic that I can come up with but I failed to do this. I was hesitant to publish something this week but I know that that's what I have to do.

It's the right thing and all I need is the Courage to do it.
While this is a small problem I thought it would fit very well as an example and I apply this wherever I can.

Why should you care

Stoicism is one of the most powerful philosophies out there and highly practical yet it can be a bit hard to get started because it sometimes doesn't feel like we really know how to apply it to our own life or company so I thought I'd break down how it helps me every day.

How does it help you?

Lets look at the 4 Cardinal virtues of Stoicism and an explanation where it helps in your company Journey

  1. WISDOM 🧠 (Knowing what is good and bad)

    • Helps you sacrifice in the short term and optimize for the long term because deep down you know what's right and good for the company and that's not
  2. COURAGE 💪 (bravery, grit, resilience)

    • Building a sustainable business needs endurance, it's a marathon and you need to show up every day. It's also riddled with a lot of setbacks and things that will just wanna make you give up.
    • Realize that this is normal and that things will compound over time but also know that giving up is not a failure, a failure to realize that this might not be for you however is.
  3. TEMPERANCE 🤙 (moderation, self-control, self-awareness)

    • Self-awareness is crucial to not to be led astray by all the shiny objects that come your way (New ideas, New projects you name it) while you're building your company, grass is always greener on the other side
    • Regularly checking in and reflecting on where you are, what went well and what can be improved is super helpful in keeping on track
  4. JUSTICE 🚓 (moral wisdom, impartiality)

    • Building a company means being in contact with other people, that might be your other Founders, Employees or Customers, always striving to be fair and just will make your life much easier
    • Dealing with an annoying customer? They might just have a bad day
    • Someone trying to steal your idea? You don't compete with them only with yourself, they already have to live with their choice of copying you, that's enough punishment

Let me know what you think, if you think I'm talking out of my ass or what helps you to deal with the struggles that come with being an Indie Hacker in the comments ❤️

Thanks for reading 🤙

If you're into stoicism check out our newest project that's a collection of the best stoic quotes

  1. 5

    Thank you Stefan.

    I first heard of stoicism around 12 years ago. Have applied it on and off since, but’s it’s really for the past year, and all the struggles I experienced with my own startup, that it became a true philosophy for me.

    Waves of excitement, trust will alternate with waves of fear and anxiety. That is normal and I shouldn’t try to change it. Just accept and keep following through with my plan regardless. Trust the long game.

    Thank you 🙏

    1. 2

      Yeah you're right.

      The thing is life has it ups and downs and it has to otherwise we wouldn't appreciate the ups as much.

      One of the most important things imo is preparing yourself for the downs while you're in an up, that's what negative visualization for example is for. 💪

      1. 1

        🙏 we're gonna make it :)

        1. 2

          🚀We're "Makers" after all 😛

  2. 1

    I've found stoicism to be really important for mindset.

    I agree with the content of your post, but to be honest, it isn't very actionable - for those looking to really understand Stoicism, I'd recommend the Calm Masterclass (https://app.www.calm.com/masterclass). I'm not affiliated with them.

    1. 1

      Fair enough, I think some people can get value out of seeing it applied to situations they can identify with but it's definitely not a "do this or that" kind of playbook so thanks for adding 🤙

  3. 1

    Thanks for the share Stefan - all valuable points to keep in mind

    1. 1

      Glad you find it useful 🤙

  4. 1

    Thanks for the insight! Looking at obstacles/ struggles this way brings perspective and orient the decision process, even though it might remain hard to make the decision. I will apply it to myself next time I'm facing a tough situation.

    1. 2

      Glad you find it useful :)

      even though it might remain hard to make the decision.

      Stoicism at its core is simple, yet never easy unfortunately but it's all about embracing the struggle and trying to do the right thing.

      I think a lot of times objectively decisions will be easy and if you ask someone like a friend for advice they will straight up tell you what to do but subjectively for us they are much harder because we have all these thoughts things pulling us in different directions so the picture becomes blurry.

      It's really all about keeping that mental clearness by looking at your options, what's in your control and not and trying to emotionally detach yourself from the situation as best as you can.

      Again simple but not easy 😁but if you manage to do it the gains are 📈

  5. 1

    I'm not sure where I picked it up but I find the following "stoic" mindset trick super helpful. When faced with something difficult ask yourself two questions:

    • Do I care about it?
    • Can I influence it?

    You want to spend most of your time in the quadrant where the answer is YES to both questions.

    1. 1

      Yeah that's super useful advice for breaking down every day decisions, should be fast and simple 🤙

  6. 1

    I'd say The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday is a pretty good book in keeping up with the quotes. That said, I only read the quotes, not the descriptions as I believe Ryan injects his own philosophy into the quote sometimes.

    I do agree logically 100% with the whole Stoic philosophy (virtue is the sole good), it's just hard to internalize it. Why are people becoming founders? For some, it's status, impact, or money. I personally am doing it so I can retire my parents.

    According to the stoics, this is beyond my control. I should instead focus on being a virtuous person while doing so. And I agree with that too, I don't want to screw anyone over for my own selfish gains.

    But if the company fails? It's tough to get past that, even if you know it's not in your control.

    1. 1

      That said, I only read the quotes, not the descriptions as I believe Ryan injects his own philosophy into the quote sometimes.

      I think he does but it's also what makes it more approachable for the everyday person, the quotes can sometimes not be super easy to interpret imo, I started with "The daily stoic" and then went on to read "Meditations", "The happy life" etc after that.

      it's just hard to internalize it

      I think there's a lot of value in stoicism even if you're not always 100% following everything to a tee, just having a base mindset of striving to be virtuous is enough, wdyt?

      I see it as I'm trying to be the best I can be but I know that at the end of the day I'm just human and struggle with things all the time. This however doesn't keep me from trying my best.

      But if the company fails?

      I've had plenty of companies fail, it's always a pain but you know that you need to move on, what point is there in doing anything else? 🧐

      1. 2

        Oh, I definitely agree on the fact that there's value even if you don't follow it 100%. Everyone for example, can benefit from the negative visualization exercises and dichotomy of control.

  7. 1

    I agree, Stoicism is one of the better ways to lead one's life, but it's super hard. Especially letting go of all the things you don't have control over (for example, other people's actions).

    I've got a lot of wisdom from Derren Brown's book "Happy". It's not business specific, just a way to view the world to help remove a lot of stress and anxiety. Worth a read for anyone interested.

    1. 1

      I agree, Stoicism is one of the better ways to lead one's life, but it's super hard

      I struggle with this a lot too but if you can do this it's so worth it. I'm simply trying my best to hold myself accountable to the ideals and try to be a better version of myself every day and that's all that really matters I think to impact your life positively.

      I've got a lot of wisdom from Derren Brown's book "Happy".

      Book looks interesting, good recommendation 🤙

  8. 1

    Totally agree, having a stoic mindset is helpful in dealing with tough situations of life as you mentioned.

    There's an amazing book I read on Stoicism - Art of Living: The Classical Mannual on Virtue, Happiness, and Effectiveness, they are lectures given by a Greek Stoic philosopher - Epictetus, born 2000 years ago. It was amazing that the things he taught back then are still so relevant today. I consider this a book a true gem and I'd go back to it when I need some motivation.

    All the best!

    1. 1

      Book looks interesting thanks for the recommendation

      I've read this book from Epictetus but it's without interpretations.

      Too bad there's not more of him that has survived time.

      All the best to you too mate.

  9. 1

    100%. Becoming a founder is one of the best training grounds for self improvement through stoicism. There are no awards for being a founder. There's no sugar coating. You don't get a raise because you asked. You only win when you face the truth and put in the work.

    1. 2

      Agree with most of it, you should just know what you're getting yourself into because I feel like being a Founder has been romanticized quite a bit.

      How you describe it, is what it actually is, not how people like to believe it is 😁

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