The Daily Stoic for November 7th, “How To Be Powerful”.
“Don’t trust in your reputation, money, or position, but in the strength that is yours—namely, your judgments about the things that you control and don’t control. For this alone is what makes us free and unfettered, that picks us up by the neck from the depths and lifts us eye to eye with the rich and powerful.”—EPICTETUS, DISCOURSES, 3.26.34–35
So today’s daily stoic insists on the teaching that to be powerful, they key is having less needs, instead of having achieved more. As it’s formulated in today’s stoic, I don’t really agree. Why?
How To Be Powerful
Today’s stoic meditation describes this famous encounter between Alexander the Great and Diogenes the Cynic. I have heard several variants of that story, but this one describes how Alexander wanted to cross a river only to found the philosopher was blocking the river crossing.
When asked to move by one of Alexander’s men, shouting: “This man has conquered the world! What have you done?”, Diogenes replied: “I have conquered the need to conquer the world”.
While that was true, I can’t help but thinking that Alexander has more merit. I mean, it’s ok to sit on one of the Agora’s seat and philosophize until you come to the conclusion that you don’t need anything. It’s great when if realize everything out of your control is not worth considering or fighting with… Congratulations Diogenes.
But Alexander built an empire. He had to survive extreme conditions, fight very difficult battles, and grow an army that conquered the world. In my mind, I see Alexander as an entrepreneur, and can’t help but seeing Diogenes as the teenager that decides life is too hard to something about it. Maybe a dumb comparison, but that’s how I see it today.
And I guess most people prefer to be called “Great” than “Cynic”, right? 🙂
Today’s Daily Stoic, “How To Be Powerful”, discusses again the “have