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There Have Always Been Haters (and Always Will Be)

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Given how terrible most of the Roman emperors were, you might think that Marcus Aurelius was universally loved. Of course, this is not true. Plenty of people hated him, plenty of people thought they should be in charge and not him. (In fact, one of his best friends betrayed him in a terrible coup). Even now, centuries later, he’s overlooked or even outright criticized, as this recent interview with historian Mary Beard illustrates. 

Did this get to Marcus Aurelius? Would it get to him today if he was around to see what people thought of him? Absolutely not. In fact, in Meditations he writes that the reality of leadership is one in which you “earn a bad reputation by good deeds.” No matter who you are or what you do, you’ll have haters. If you don’t want any…then best not try anything, do anything, or be anything worth talking about. 

There are always going to be people who dislike you, who criticize you, who attack you. For the most part, these reasons will have nothing to do with you and everything to do with those leveling the attacks. Unfortunately, many people waste their time stressing about, fighting against, and trying to change these opinions, which—as always—remain firmly outside our control. We have to resist that impulse. We have to be like Marcus Aurelius. We have to focus on what we control. 

We have to do the right thing…the rest doesn’t matter.