#2: Stoicism 

Stoicism is an ancient Greek philosophy which teaches the development of self-control and fortitude as a means of overcoming destructive emotions.

Really? A philosophy lesson from a guy that did a four-year security degree in eight-years? A lesson, no – ideas, yes!

A friend asked me, “how do you stay focused, in times like these?” Well, around ten years ago, I was writing a term paper and stumbled upon the word stoicism.  A word that until that moment was unbeknown to me, but defined my task/mission-focused character.

Everything I do can fall into these ten stoic insights.

Find your purpose: If you have a clear understanding of your goals and how your task fits within them, you are much more likely to complete it. The most significant source of self-discipline is to have a reason to do the job. If you don’t know what to do, then make a start. You want to write a book, then write; be an artist, then draw; get a better your job, then study; get fit, then get off the sofa and move – as Nike says, “Just Do It. ”

Count on yourself: Turn your passion into a reality. Believe in yourself, develop a plan of action to accomplish your goal, be fully committed. Self-discipline is the ability to get yourself to take action to do what you need to do, whether you feel like it or not. Break the task down into milestones, small gains to achieve the end state. What you’re ultimately trying to avoid is becoming overwhelmed; this can quickly digress to procrastination, which can subsequently lead to stagnating. Where there is stagnation, self-discipline cannot exist. Believe in yourself, cut out the noise and focus.

Show up every day: You need to show up every day and put in the work – immerse yourself. People with purpose and that plan still fail to achieve their goals. They fail because they fail to be consistent. In saying this, if you aren’t failing, you aren’t trying, pick yourself up and try again. Failure doesn’t define your character, your ability to keep going is what moulds you into a disciplined, strong-minded person. The moment you wake up, move forward by focusing on what’s in front of you.

Practice voluntary hardship: We should continuously test ourselves by making life routinely uncomfortable in some way. We are hardening ourselves for the day that we need to live it for real. A cold shower, no TV, social media free days, physical and or mental exertion. Do it often enough, and you will begin to understand what scarcity and hardship feel like and that you can live with both if needed.

Practice dichotomy of control: You have power over your mind, not outside events. Realise this, and you will find the strength to move forward. Being distressed, being bothered by small things is terrible for discipline. Reinforce to yourself what is within your control and what is out of your control. Ask yourself, do I have problems in my life? Can I do something about it? Yes, then do something about it. No, then don’t worry about it. Focus on what you can fix and fix it. Take note of what you can’t, and move forward.

Never play the victim: Do your job without whining. Excuses = whining. Why me? = whining. Complaining/whining is an enemy to mental toughness. Your life depends on you determining what is within your control and taking those things into your own hands. Self-pity is an excuse. No excuses. Step up even if it is not your fault, and make things right. Own it, without a sense of ownership, meaningful progress becomes an impossible task.

Practice delayed gratification: Delayed gratification involves the ability to wait to get what you want. Resist temptation and stick to your goals.

Ignore the naysayers: Ignore the people that criticise and oppose you. You should actively seek honest feedback from those you respect. Negative feedback is good feedback, negativity is not. Cutaway the naysayers, these could be friends and family. What’s more important? You moving forward or hanging around people that hold you back, move forward.

Find wise people to emulate: Find knowledgeable people to follow. We are a product of our surroundings. Look outward. Find a role model. Who is doing this right now? Who has successfully achieved this goal? Who has mastered it? What can I learn from them? Ask them how they followed through with specific actions that got them their desired outcome. Then use their experience to help you discipline/guide yourself.

Review your day: Scrutinise yourself and find your weak spots. Daily self-scrutiny will allow you to become more self-aware. Be brutally honest with yourself. We’ve become a soft tribe that gives high fives, hugs, and trophies for attempting something. Life is either a pass or fail. Scrutinise yourself, adapt, adjust, better yourself, then reward yourself at the end of the task. Don’t beat yourself up on mistakes; learn from them, and move forward.

Weekly tips:

Exercise:  The prison: Choose an exercise, anything. On the first minute do 1, then the second 2, the third 3. Yes, you get it. Keep going until you can’t. Volume builds capacity, include this into your weekly exercise program.

    • Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Walk.
    • Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday: The prison.
    • Sunday: Rest and reward yourself.

Book of the week: The Body: A Guide for Occupants

YouTube Videos/Movie of the week: Ross Edgley’s Great British Swim.

    • There are 24 episodes, 10 to 20 min each. Ross is one of the people that I look up to. He is a British extreme athlete and sports scientist. This YouTube series shows his journey on becoming the first person to swim around mainland Great Britain in 157 days. This adds a whole new meaning to isolation and self-discipline.
    • Link: https://youtu.be/C922Z0E6vs0

TED Talk: The next outbreak? We’re not ready – Bill Gates.

    • This TED Talk is from 2015 (hindsight is a wonderful tool). When we get out of our current situation – and we will – we need to change. That change starts with us as individuals.
    • Link: https://youtu.be/6Af6b_wyiwI

Until next week, Stand Tall.