The Stoics Were The First Coaches

The Stoics Were The First Coaches

In ancient Greece and Rome, when people had a problem they didn’t go to a psychotherapist. They went to a Stoic philosopher — the three main ones were Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Seneca. These men helped others adjust their mental approach to life through their wisdom.

I just finished a book “Breakfast with Seneca — A Stoic Guide to the Art of Living” by David Fideler. The first thing the author does is to make an important distinction: While a “stoic” (lowercase s) is a person who represses emotions, Stoicism (uppercase S) is a philosophy intended to enhance peoples’ opportunity to live a rich life.

I’ve included five essential Stoic teaching here:

1. “Recognize what you can and cannot control.” Much like the serenity prayer, this helps us focus on areas of life we can affect through our efforts and ignore the rest.

2. “You determine your reaction to a crisis.” Disturbing situations will happen to everyone. It’s how we react that either helps us address them effectively or go to pieces.

3. “Ignore people dominated by their own negative emotions.” Negative people can infect us with their mindset. I have eliminated all “Negaholics” from my life, hope you have as well.

4. “Master yourself and aim to be virtuous.” The ultimate goal of Stoicism is to develop one’s character. Doing so allows peace of mind, gratitude, even joy, no matter the circumstances.

5. “Learn to move on.” Stoics encourage us to let go of troublesome events in the past so we can live fully in the present.

While these ideas are thousands of years old, this timeless Stoic wisdom is very similar to what I coach my Financial Advisor clients on regularly to help them improve their business and life. Certainly seems like they were the first coaches, no?

Question: Which one above resonates most with you?

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