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    This is The Truly Inexcusable Thing

    Daily Stoic Emails

    Seneca once said, quoting Fabius, that the only inexcusable thing for a commander to say was, “I did not think that could happen.” And of course, he is right: The job of the leader is to be prepared, to have a plan, to anticipate all possible and probable outcomes. Whether it’s a military campaign, a creative project, or a business negotiation. This is why the Stoics practiced premeditatio malorum and made a point of always doing their ‘hard winter training.’

    But in truth, what is worse than not doing the training, what is worse even than saying, “I didn’t think that could happen”, is saying, “Oh, I didn’t think that could happen again.” And yet, that is something people have found themselves saying throughout this pandemic. It is something that past leaders with ignominious histories have also said during other times of uncertainty or difficulty.  

    As if there was no such thing as variants or double dip recessions…
    As if it’s not possible for bad things to get worse…
    As if something you fixed once can’t come undone or reoccur…
    As if 100-year storms only happen once every hundred years…
    As if the roulette wheel can’t hit double-zero again, on the very next spin…
    As if some people or places don’t get freakishly unlucky…
    As if the person who wronged you and got away with it isn’t now actually more likely to do it again (even though they’ve assured you otherwise).

    You have to be prepared…always. You can’t let your guard down. As they say, fool me once, shame on you. But fool me twice? If something can happen, it can happen to you. More urgently, you have to understand that if something can happen to you once, it can happen to you again.

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