Stoicism is a philosophical practice that is perfect for the real world. If you want to better overcome obstacles, approach challenges with a greater degree of success and be more resilient in business, you can learn a lot from this branch of philosophy.

When you mention Greek philosophy to entrepreneurs don’t be surprised if you get a few raised eyebrows. Tell a business owner that the world is an unpredictable place, that our lives are brief sparks of light amidst an eternity of darkness and that our senses rather than our logic often dictate how we feel about certain things, and you might be lucky to get just a shrug of the shoulders and a quiet ‘so what?’.

Stoicism for Entrepreneurs? Pull the Other One

The thing about this often ignored philosophical branch is that there are concrete things you can do with it. It’s a practical philosophy at its heart. If you’ve read our article on mindfulness meditation, then what we are about to say will fit in nicely with this area of personal development. There are benefits to be had from stoicism. It can help you stay strong in adversity and control your emotions in the most trying circumstances. If you’ve ever had to deal with negative emotions when things go wrong, you’ll know how difficult it can be to contain yourself and make the right decisions on the spot. Whether it’s through panic or fear, when you are at the mercy of these emotions you are less likely to make smart moves that benefit your company.

What’s it About?

There are several aspects to stoicism for entrepreneurs. These include:

Visualising the negative: We often spend time thinking about what we want and how to get there rather than dwelling on the negative. After all, entrepreneurs are positive, get up and go types of people. But spending some time visualising negative scenarios and drilling deep into their impact can help you develop strategies that can get you out of a difficult situation when and if it does occur.

The impact of stoicism is perfectly summed up by entrepreneur Mike Fishbein who said:

“Stoics use reasoning to overcome negative emotions. Putting negative moments into a cosmic context trivializes and alleviates it. By contemplating the impermanence of the world around us, we realize that some things are not as important as we may think.”

Focusing on control: Stoics plan for the future but they don’t consider things that are out of their control. That means you take a different view of something like a sales pitch. What is in your control is how well you deliver your presentation not whether your customer is going to buy or not – that’s up to them, not to you. It’s a slight change in personal attitude that doesn’t diminish your effectiveness but increases your focus on what you can actually control. In other words, instead of worrying about the customer response and creating negative emotions, you focus on the part you know you can influence.

There are other important aspects of stoicism that entrepreneurs will find eminently useful. For instance, not searching for wealth but changing attention to providing what customers really need and how you are going to deliver it better; not pursuing goals that make you unhappy and valuing freedom above the constraints of life choices that may not be right for you.

Stoicism and Meditation

Finally, there is a strong link between developing a stoic philosophy and meditation. Mindfulness allows us to simplify the world around us. Things can often seem incredibly complicated when you are an entrepreneur – the pressure and stress can appear insurmountable. Practicing stoicism helps you prepare for those challenging moments and it can also give you incredible tools to react when something unexpected happens.



Sam is Co-Founder at Virtalent and responsible for leading the company’s marketing, web and sales teams.

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