“But what is philosophy? Doesn’t it simply mean preparing ourselves for what may come? Don’t you understand that really amounts to saying that if I would so prepare myself to endure, then let anything happen that will? Otherwise, it would be like the boxer exiting the ring because he took some punches. Actually, you can leave the boxing ring without consequence, but what advantage would come from abandoning the pursuit of wisdom? So, what should each of us say to every trial we face? This is what I’ve trained for, for this my discipline!” — Epictetus.
Epictetus is one of my favorite teachers of all time. If I didn’t know any better, I would presume he was an all-star coach from some 90s Disney inspirational movie. He tells us that if you were a boxer in a ring, you wouldn’t give up after receiving the first punch. That would be ridiculous, wouldn’t it? So how come this is what we often do in our everyday lives? Something gets a little bit hard, and we quit or give ourselves excuses. Philosophy is meant to be training for the mind, to help us deal with adversity. Some people say that philosophy teaches us how to live; the stoics would better say that it teaches us how to die — for you are mortal.
“Memento Mori” (Remember Death) - Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome
You get hit? Get up and try again. This is not pop coaching or cheesy motivational speech. It is what I teach my son every single day. The first time he tried to walk, he fell and cried. Then, he got up and tried again. He fell again. What am I to say? Stay on all fours and crawl for the rest of your life? No! get up and try again. Today, we started learning how to play the trumpet. He nearly made a fart sound, but not quite yet. Tomorrow we will try again. And then again and then again and then again.
Remember that, as a leader. Encourage your team to make mistakes and to learn from them. It is how you become great at what you do. Remember that the word “encourage” means “to give courage.” Courage comes from the word heart (cœur in french). So to encourage literally means “to give heart.” Give your team, your children, and your friends “heart” to try again and again and to never give up.
I do not know of a single success story that didn’t start with some sort of adversity (unless inheritance counts as a success story?)