Our response to the world is the only action that matters. We will encounter many different experiences on a daily basis, the way in which we chose to respond to those events determines our perception of the world. The events are neutral (objective), our response is subjective. The bias is derived from a number of sensory factors, including but not limited to our mood, disposition and aura. If we track our perception and corresponding reaction to any stimuli we can alter the course of our lives.
"My emphasis on process was born of necessity. What I was quickly discovering about the presidency was that no problem that landed on my desk, foreign or domestic, had a clean, 100 percent solution. If it had, someone else down the chain of command would have solved it already. Instead, I was constantly dealing with probabilities: a 70 percent chance, say, that a decision to do nothing would end in disaster; a 55 percent chance that this approach versus that one might solve the problem (with a 0 percent chance that it would work out exactly as intended); a 30 percent chance that whatever we chose wouldn’t work at all, along with a 15 percent chance that it would make the problem worse.
In such circumstances, chasing after the perfect solution led to paralysis. On the other hand, going with your gut too often meant letting preconceived notions or the path of least political resistance guide a decision—with cherry-picked facts used to justify it. But with a sound process—one in which I was able to empty out my ego and really listen, following the facts and logic as best I could and considering them alongside my goals and my principles—I realized I could make tough decisions and still sleep easy at night, knowing at a minimum that no one in my position, given the same information, could have made the decision any better. A good process also meant I could allow each member of the team to feel ownership over the decision—which meant better execution ..."
Source: Barack Obama in A Promised Land (p293)
John D. Rockefeller before he was…well John D. Rockefeller as we knew him. He was just a kid with a deadbeat dad. At 16 he took his first job as bookkeeper and aspiring investor. He was making fifty cents a day. Less than two years later the Panic of 1857 struck. The result was a crippling national depression that lasted for several years.
Here was the greatest market depression in history and it hit Rockefeller just as he was finally getting the hang of things. It’s terrible right? Real investors who supposedly knew what they were doing lost everything. What is he supposed to do? Rockefeller later said that he was inclined to see the opportunity in every disaster. That’s exactly what he did.
Instead of complaining about this economic upheaval or quitting like his peers, Rockefeller chose to eagerly observe the events that unfolded. He looked at the panic as an opportunity to learn, a baptism in the market.
It was this intense self-discipline and objectivity that allowed Rockefeller to seize advantage from obstacle after obstacle in his life, during the Civil War, and the panics of 1873, 1907, and 1929. Within twenty years of that first crisis, Rockefeller would alone control 90 percent of the oil market. His greedy competitors had perished and his doubters had missed out.
It’s a two part mental shift. First, to see disaster rationally. To not panic, to not make rash decisions. And second, like Rockefeller, we can see opportunity in every disaster, and transform that negative situation into an education, a skill set, or a fortune.
We all face tough situations on a regular basis. But behind the circumstances and events that provoke an immediate negative reaction is something good—some exposed benefit that we can seize mentally and then act upon. We blame outside forces or other people and we write ourselves off as failures or our goals as impossible.
But there is only one thing we really control: our attitude and approach.
“Man does not simply exist but always decides what his existence will be, what he will become the next moment. By the same token, every human being has the freedom to change at any instant.”
— Viktor Frankl
Remember: We choose how we’ll look at things.
Source: Farnam Street. Read the whole article here.
“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
— Marcus Aurelius - Over 2000 years ago.
What Marcus meant was that the Stoic finds a way to turn every negative into a positive. In this famous line, what he’s suggesting is that—no matter how bad or seemingly undesirable a situation becomes—we always have the opportunity to practice virtue, to use the situation as an opportunity to be our best selves.
We don’t control when things get hard, but we always control how we respond.
We can show patience, courage, humility, resourcefulness, reason, justice, and creativity. The things that test us make us who we are.
The Stoic grows stronger and better with every obstacle they face. They rally to every challenge and thrive as a result. So can you.
Wisdom/ What I'm Reading...
The Book that best describes the Stoic way is
The Obstacle is the Way - Ryan Holiday
The book is written in the form of stories, lessons from world renowned leaders and Stoics. It prepares a framework of this timeless principle to illustrate how these great men and women responded to adversity and hardship, always choosing how to react.
“Ryan Holiday is one of his generation’s finest thinkers…”
— Steven Pressfield
If you haven’t read it yet, you must.
It will absolutely change the way you look at your life actions.
Overcoming obstacles is a discipline of three critical steps, and this is how the book is structured.
“There is no good or bad without us, there is only perception. There is the event itself and the story we tell ourselves about what it means.”
— Ryan Holiday
“The phrase ‘This happened and it is bad’ is actually two impressions. The first—‘This happened’—is objective. The second—‘it is bad’—is subjective.”
“We don’t get to choose what happens to us, but we can always choose how we feel about it.”
In mastering these three disciplines we have the tools to flip any obstacle upside down. Like Rockefeller, we can be cool under pressure, immune to insults and abuse. We learn how to see opportunity in the darkest of places. We are able to direct our actions with energy and persistence.
About Ryan Holiday RYAN HOLIDAY is one of the world's foremost thinkers and writers on ancient philosophy and its place in everyday life. He is a sought-after speaker, strategist, and the author of many bestselling books including The Obstacle Is the Way; Ego Is the Enemy; and The Daily Stoic. His books have been translated into over 30 languages and sold over two million copies worldwide.