Stoicism is a philosophical thought movement founded by the ancient Greek philosopher Zeno of Citium in the 3rd century BCE that has influenced many thinkers throughout history, including the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with reason and virtue.
The fact that Stoic philosophy has a rational core and does not require belief in supernatural powers makes it very attractive to modern people. Combined with an emphasis on character building, it’s no surprise that it’s grown in popularity over the past few decades.
Here are three ways the principles of stoicism can empower modern startup founders:
1. It can help you stay calm in tumultuous times
“You have power over your mind – not external events. Realize this and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
Stoics believe that we have little control over external events, but we can control our own reactions to those events. This can be especially valuable for founders of tech startups, who can face a lot of pressure and uncertainty as they build their businesses.
By adopting a stoic mindset, tech startup founders can avoid being overwhelmed by negative emotions from outside events and instead focus on what they can control and what they can do to overcome obstacles.
In addition, Stoicism teaches that we should focus on what is within our control and let go of what is beyond our control. This can be useful for founders, who might get caught up in the minutiae of running a business and lose sight of the bigger picture.
2. It can help founders build character
“It is a rough road that leads to the heights of greatness.” -Seneca
“It’s difficulties that show what men are.” – Epictetus
Building a successful startup is one of the hardest things you can do. Unsurprisingly, vitality and resilience are some of the most important qualities startup founders need to pass.
Stoicism can help founders cultivate resilience and perseverance. Stoics believe that we should strive to be indifferent to pleasure and pain, focusing instead on living a virtuous life. By adopting this mindset, you can emotionally overcome short-term discomforts and failures and adopt a principled course of action that will pay off in the long run.
So instead of obsessing over the outcome of each situation, the main question you would focus on would be whether or not you behaved appropriately in the given situation.
3. It helps founders find meaning in their work
“Wealth is the slave of a wise man and the master of a fool.” -Seneca
Stoicism can help tech startup founders develop a sense of purpose and meaning. Stoics believe that we should live virtuous lives and strive to contribute to the greater good.
This is a small step for most startup founders who are usually driven not only by profit, but also by the idea that they are changing the world for the better and contributing to something bigger than themselves.
Finding this sense of purpose naturally makes things much easier for you startup team to stay motivated in difficult times, which brings us back to the value of resilience in startups.
Finally, stoicism can be a useful mindset for founders of tech startups. Adopting a stoic mindset helps founders stay calm and focused, maintain a sense of perspective, cultivate resilience and perseverance, cultivate gratitude and contentment, and develop a sense of purpose and meaning in their work.