The Daily Stoic for June 3rd. “It Is Well To Be Flexible”.
“He can’t serve in the military? Let him seek public office. Must he live in the private sector? Let him be a spokesperson. Is he condemned to silence? Let him aid his fellow citizens by silent public witness. Is it dangerous to enter the Forum? Let him display himself, in private homes, at public events and gatherings, as a good associate, faithful friend, and moderate tablemate. Has he lost the duties of a citizen? Let him exercise those of a human being.”
—SENECA, ON TRANQUILITY OF MIND, 4.3”
Where I am from, it’s generally accepted that you should do just one thing during your lifetime. That thing becomes who you are. It defines you.
“I am a doctor”… “I am a programmer”… “He is this”… “She is that”.
Sometimes, people that have done lots of different things are seen as problematic. Maybe they have some problem that prevents them from staying at a job for long. Probably, when I was younger, I thought the same.
However, as time goes by and you meet different people, you realize that it’s quite the contrary. Those who have done lots of different things in their lives are the most interesting people. They have seen the world through different eyes at different times of their lives. As a consequence, these people tend to fascinate me, and I always love engaging in a conversation where I can listen and learn new things.
Not that there’s something wrong with working for the same company for 40 years, of course. But society tends to see life changes as failures, when in fact, it’s the other way around in my opinion.
It Is Well To Be Flexible
The same applies to businesses. When you are a micropreneur, and you are starting a new business or testing a new idea, it is well to be flexible.
Coming from a technical background, I have made all the mistakes in the book. I have developed products without a market or even a real need to solve. I have fallen in love with the solution instead of the problem. And I have started many businesses that have failed miserably.
From all those failures, you need to learn to be flexible. Not only to be ready to detect when the business is going nowhere, but to accept it before it’s too late and to move on.
We hear far too much about failure. It’s that topic that makes you look like an instant guru by just saying “There is no such thing as failure, only learning experiences.”… Or stuff like that.
In the end, failure does not guarantee success. It does not make you particularly smarter. You won’t succeed by just failing repeatedly. Nonetheless, It teaches you humility and flexibility. It actually teaches you what to avoid next time, or what does not work.
But you still need to be flexible and try other things. Ok, that didn’t work, but maybe this will. That’s a good lesson from Stoicism. So thank you, Mr. Seneca.
Today’s Daily Stoic, “It Is Well To Be Flexible”, talks about how we should be flexible to accept failures, and focus not on them, but on what can we do instead. I find this stoic teaching in sync with my life as a solopreneur. Learning from your mistakes and failed projects and being flexible is essential for carrying on.