Seven Clear Functions of the Mind
Today’s Daily Stoic, enumerates the seven clear functions of the mind.
The proper work of the mind is the exercise of choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. What then can pollute and clog the mind’s proper functioning? Nothing but its own corrupt decisions.”
—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 4.11.6–7
As I have mentioned before, I am not easily inspired by enumerations. When considering what to write about today’s Daily Stoic, I was pretty clueless and uninspired.
Then, I realized that these seven clear functions of the mind actually describe very accurately the steps for releasing a new product or launching a new business.
I am in the process of releasing 0Password, an app for iOS and Android that allows you to store all your passwords securely through the use of your fingerprint on multiple devices.
I developed the app for digital nomads like myself that need to keep their passwords secure and conveniently available anytime. Right now, the first version of the App is in review at the App Store.
Let me elaborate on how these seven functions of the mind can serve you as a template or guide to launch your next product or business.
Seven Clear Functions Of The Mind, A Business Plan.
Choice, refusal, yearning, repulsion, preparation, purpose, and assent. These are the seven clear functions of the mind mentioned by Epictetus. Every business or plan starts with a choice.
Why do you start a business or launch a product?
If you read my blog regularly, you know I love the book Start Small, Stay Small: A developer’s guide to launching a startup. In that book, Rob Walling enumerates the wrong reasons for doing it:
- having a product idea
- to get rich
- because it sounds like fun
Instead, the trigger for starting a business should be a need in a market. Once you identify that need, you can do your research and decide what would be the best solution to solve ir.
The choice here refers to the solution, not the idea or product.
Once you identify a market with a problem, and decide a way of serving that market, you should define your minimum viable product. It’s easy during that process to try and build a silver bullet product that will solve every possible need or will address everything right from the start.
Refuse the temptation to build such a Juggernaut. Your product should focus on solving that initial problem better than anyone else. Then, you can later add other features.
While this MVP concept gets repeated ad nauseam in the startup ecosystem, every single estimate I am asked to elaborate describes a gigantic app that most probably won’t succeed because of its complexity and the time it will require to launch an initial version.
We never learn, I guess…
Yearning here means knowing your goals and acting accordingly. What do you want to achieve? What’s your vision for your product or service?
In my experience, the most successful products are those that aim to solve a very concrete problem and focus on providing a solution that exceeds the expectations of its users or customers.
Keep in mind your goals.
Repulsion here means getting rid of everything superfluous, or anything that might not directly help you reach your goals.
There are lots of ways of wasting your time while looking like you are being productive. It’s important to identify and avoid them to focus on what’s important, specially at the beginning.
While working on a new product or business, shit will happen. You have to be ready for that.
Things will break, critical supporters or important opportunities will fail. It’s important to be ready for that and have a plan B, C and D.
Also, it’s important to be consistent and a little bit stubborn. You won’t get far if you abandon at the first misstep.
Directly related to the previous point, you should always keep in mind the purpose behind your project. Starting a new business or launching a product is hard work, and it’s easy to loose the initial excitement when difficulties start to appear.
Keep always in mind the purpose behind all your effort and hard work. It will help you pass through the hard moments.
All in all, a new business can thrive or sink. If the latter happens, it’s important to accept it and move on.
This is where stoicism can be of help. We need to be able to let go to start a new, more successful project.
Phew! This Daily Stoic was particularly difficult for me. While considering what to write about it, I was kind of stuck, refusing to come with a boring enumeration of concepts.
Then I realized these seven clear functions of the mind perfectly map with the sequence of steps that I followed when releasing my last product, 0Password. Thus, I decided to write how you can use them to plan your next business or product.
Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments below! 🙂