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It’s Really That Simple

Daily Stoic Emails

Sometimes we are so stuck, so in our own heads, so down on our luck that improvement–let alone a full recovery–seems impossible. Our business has been slowing down. We’re not throwing the ball like we used to. Our significant other walked out after 20 years of marriage.

What do we do? Well, first thing is we don’t despair. There’s a lot of things we don’t control in life, but our attitude is something that’s up to us. Giving up is up to us. Next, we do what Super Bowl winning NFL coach Sean Payton is getting ready to do in Denver. The Broncos had an absolutely terrible year last year, especially at the quarterback position which is held by future Hall of Famer, Russell Wilson. “No 1 job for us coaches,” he explained in his first press conference, “in evaluating players is what are the things they do well and let’s try to put them in those positions…Highlight their strengths and minimize their weaknesses.”

We discussed this very approach on the Daily Stoic podcast recently with Chicago Cubs Gold Glove left fielder Ian Happ. It seems almost too simple that at that high a level a coach would just look at what’s working well for Wilson and what isn’t and then design an offense that does more of the former and less of the latter–but that’s really it! That’s what champions do. It’s what turnaround consultants in businesses do too. It’s also how Epictetus boiled down the entirety of his philosophy–it was as simple as two words, he said, “Persist and resist.” That is, keep doing the stuff that’s good, stop doing the stuff that’s bad!

Last year might have been an abysmal season. Your sales might be in the tank. You might feel like your relationship is falling apart. Don’t despair. Look at what’s working, look at what isn’t. Explore why it’s working, figure out how to get more consistent with it. Go to your strengths…and then, when you’re operating from a position of strength, apply that energy towards improving your weaknesses.