We can imagine that the job of the emperor was not an easy one. Marcus would have had enormous responsibilities and despite his absolute power, he still had to deal constantly with his advisors, with his family, with his guards, with the Senate and with his magistrates. He had to deal with the Roman people too. Leading the state would have required a lot of persuasion and arguments of all kinds: Do this. Don’t do that. Listen. Try this. Stop that.
So when he wrote this little note to himself, we can imagine he was speaking from experience.
“Convince them not to.
If you can.
And if not, remember: the capacity for patience was given us for a reason.”
Or maybe he wasn’t speaking about the business of the state at all. Maybe this was a note about his spouse or his difficult children. Who knows, but the advice stands true all the way to today.
You were given patience for a reason. You were given your persuasion skills for a reason too. Use the latter if you can, and if it doesn’t work, use the former. Use them both.
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