Procrastination in Ancient Rome?

November 16, 2022
“You get what you deserve. Instead of being a good person today, you choose instead to become one tomorrow” — Marcus Aurelius.
“I don’t complain about the lack of time… what little I have will go far enough. Today — this day — will achieve what no tomorrow will fail to speak about. I will lay siege to the gods and shake up the world” — Seneca.

You’re right here, right now, on medium or LinkedIn reading this article. Great. Chances are, you were scrolling before and will scroll again later.

The Stoics did not have social media, but they knew about procrastination. It is not a new concept that was born between MySpace and Facebook. In ancient Greece, songs were written about lost opportunities because someone didn’t take action when it mattered: now.

I will go on my diet tomorrow. I will lead with empathy and compassion, but today I will tell my team off because I’m tired, and I don’t want to try and put myself in their shoes — I am their boss, after all.

Great leaders know that today is the day. Now is the time, Carpe Diem. The Stoics had this in mind all day, every day, because each day, they would take some time to contemplate their mortality.

The last time I talked to my grandmother, the person who raised me, loved me, and gave me heart, I was on a train from St Gallen to Zurich. We got cut off. I was tired and told myself: I’ll call her back tomorrow. Tomorrow never came.

Of course, a task or a phone call might not be of such importance that it cannot be done tomorrow. We all have our muse, and the opposite to that, Steven Pressfield, in “The War of Art” and “Turning Pro,” calls the “Resistance.”

You wanted to write a book, starting tomorrow. Tomorrow was 15 years ago.

You wanted to start tomorrow on that new business idea, five years ago.

You wanted to quit smoking tomorrow, 20 years before today, your last day, on that hospital bed.

Do yourself a favor; never say tomorrow. Either do it now or save yourself the trouble and call it never.

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