Leaders Eat Last

Marcus Aurelius used his Meditations both as a journal and as a kind of commonplace book where he jotted down quotes and anecdotes he liked. We can’t be sure how the original manuscript was organized and what order he actually put his thoughts in, but it is interesting that a big chunk of Book 11 of Meditations is a collection of this kind of miscellany.

One thought Marcus took the time to write down:

“At festivals the Spartans put their guests’ seats in the shade, but sat themselves down anywhere.”

It’s an anecdote about selflessness and respect that calls to mind the title of Simon Sinek’s book Leaders Eat Last (in the Marines, officers go to the back of the chow line so enlisted men can go first). It’s also an essential element of the self-discipline of Stoicism: Be hard on yourself, but indulge others.

Just remember that thought today when you can, whether it’s picking a chair around a conference table or coming to a four-way stop at the exact same time as other cars. Let them go first. You don’t need it. You’re a leader.

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