If you want to be unsteady…
“For if a person shifts their caution to their own reasoned choices and the acts of those choices, they will at the same time gain the will to avoid, but if they shift their caution away from their own reasoned choices to things not under their control, seeking to avoid what is controlled by others, they will then be agitated, fearful, and unstable.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 2.1.12”
Today’s Daily Stoic contains an important pearl of wisdom, not just for life in general, but for you as an entrepreneur also.
The question here is obviously how being steady and serene has nothing to do with your environment. If you need to find a restful, quite place to find tranquility, you are not accepting and reasoning on your problems, you are trying to hide from them. Obviously, they will hunt you and creep up on you.
When I started meditating, some months ago, I was easily distracted by external noises. The traffic, a car honking down the street, two kids loudly playing in the apartment below…
As I kept on practicing, I got to a point where those noises are barely a distraction for me anymore. A part of my brain registers all those noises, but allows the rest of the mind to focus on… well, usually on nothing but itself.
Thus, we should learn to be steady and keep a cool head precisely under these stressful or noisy situations. Otherwise, we are just doing an empty relaxation exercise.
Business Advice: If You Want To Be Unsteady, Depend On Others…
However, apart from the pure personal interpretation of today’s Daily Stoic, there’s this interesting part:
“…but if they shift their caution away from their own reasoned choices to things not under their control, seeking to avoid what is controlled by others, they will then be agitated, fearful, and unstable.”
I find this an extremely valuable lesson for anyone starting a new business. Try not to depend on others, either people, companies, suppliers or specific technologies.
A Small Story
Let me tell you a small story. As you may know I sometimes embark myself in small micro projects. Some of them work, some of them fail miserably.
One of the successful ones, even if not profitable at all, was my news reader app Ready News Reader -Wow, I do really need to spend some time updating and rebranding the app, it’s looking old already-.
The app allows you to subscribe to categories that interest you and specific websites. For discovering interesting news feeds, specially those related to categories, I used the Google News Feed API. It worked like a charm.
Then, one day, Google closed its News Feed API. There was no previous advice (at least, nobody informed me). As a result, the App stopped working and, days later, I had lots of negative comments from angry users. I went into a rush and spent three frantic days finding a way of fixing the issue.
Obviously, as Ready the App is a free app, and I make no money out of it, that was not a dramatic experience. However, if it had been a real business, that would have been a different story.
Hence, my suggestion is: when considering a new business or project, think on the things you need to rely on. Then, once you identify them, treat them as weaknesses. Look for alternatives and have a plan B ready for each of them. You never know when they are going to left you in the lurch.
Furthermore, if possible at all, avoid them completely. Rely only on what you can control. Just as stoics do every day.
In today’s Daily Stoic, I discussed about the importance of staying serene and tranquil even under stressful or unpleasant situations. Those are the ones where we really need to apply the principles of stoicism.
Also, quoting Epictetus, “If you want to be unsteady” can also be applied as a business lesson. Indeed, when starting a new entrepreneurial adventure, try to rely as less as possible on third parties. Nevertheless, if you can’t help but depend on others, clearly identify those dependencies as possible vulnerabilities and have some contingency plans prepared, just in case.
What do you think about today’s Daily Stoic? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below!