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Modern Wisdom

#795 - Ryan Holiday - 11 Harsh Stoic Truths To Improve Your Life

Mon Jun 10 2024
StoicismSuccessTaking RisksConfidenceAdversityJusticeParentingBreaking Generational PatternsNonviolent ResistanceRole ModelsIntegrityTough Decisions

Description

This episode explores the principles of Stoicism, the importance of doing the work, defining success on your own terms, taking risks, maintaining confidence, embracing adversity, and the pursuit of justice. It also delves into topics like parenting, breaking generational patterns, nonviolent resistance, and the role of role models in making tough decisions with integrity.

Insights

Stoicism is a popular blend of ancient philosophy applicable to modern challenges.

Ryan Holiday emphasizes the importance of not talking about projects until they are nearly done to avoid premature satisfaction and loss of motivation.

Focus on doing the thing without getting caught up in competition, as competition can lead to losing confidence.

Success is more attainable when defining it on your own terms and running your own race.

Taking big risks in life without certainty can lead to greater success and growth.

Reflecting on past successes and failures is crucial for understanding the impact of choices made.

Confidence comes from handling challenges and knowing one's capabilities.

Facing challenges and setbacks can lead to valuable learning experiences and growth.

Nomadic backpacks are highly functional, durable, and well-designed with a lifetime guarantee.

Adversity can lead to reinvention and new perspectives, as seen in Hemingway's experience of losing his writings.

Building trust and not messing up is crucial for early opportunities

Fame should be a byproduct of passion and skill, not the main goal

Fame should be a byproduct of doing what you love, like playing the drums

It's important to define what success means to you personally, rather than chasing external validation or observable metrics

Exploration of the impact of low self-esteem on achieving success and admiration

Reflection on the emptiness that can accompany achieving goals and the need to find new motivations beyond external validation

Realizing that the mountain you're climbing may be the wrong one without having climbed it is likely impossible

Striving to be both successful in a field and a good human being is a rare balance worth pursuing

The speaker discusses how they deal with the desire to control things and the negative impact of expectations.

Becoming a parent is seen as a transformative experience that forces self-reflection and accountability for one's actions.

Chapters

  1. Stoicism and the Importance of Doing the Work
  2. Focus, Success, and Feedback
  3. Taking Risks, Reflecting, and Maintaining Confidence
  4. Confidence, Challenges, and Learning from Mistakes
  5. Adversity, Reinvention, and Positive Energy
  6. Building Trust, Long-Term Success, and Craft-Oriented Approach
  7. Defining Success, Integrity, and Personal Growth
  8. Self-Esteem, Parenting, and Embracing Struggle
  9. Life Experiences, Material Desires, and Personal Development
  10. Productivity, Routines, and Parenting
  11. Inner Child Work, Parenting, and Breaking Generational Patterns
  12. Justice, Virtue, and Doing the Right Thing
  13. Reimagining Medical Care and Nonviolent Resistance
  14. Challenging Colonialism, Transparency, and Living with Consequences
  15. Role Models, Integrity, and Tough Decisions
  16. Rigorous Communication, Moral Codes, and Promises
  17. Personal Discipline, Common Good, and Nonviolence
  18. Changing the World, Stoicism, and Earnestness
  19. Stoicism, Complex Decisions, and Virtuous Living
Summary
Transcript

Stoicism and the Importance of Doing the Work

00:00 - 07:12

  • Stoicism is a popular blend of ancient philosophy applicable to modern challenges.
  • Ryan Holiday emphasizes the importance of not talking about projects until they are nearly done to avoid premature satisfaction and loss of motivation.
  • Talking excessively about projects before completion can make them feel real prematurely, leading to decreased drive to actually complete them.
  • Holiday believes in focusing on doing the work rather than discussing it extensively beforehand to maintain motivation and avoid losing confidence in the project.

Focus, Success, and Feedback

06:52 - 13:57

  • Focus on doing the thing without getting caught up in competition, as competition can lead to losing confidence.
  • Success is more attainable when defining it on your own terms and running your own race.
  • Avoid following well-defined paths and instead focus on setting higher standards for yourself.
  • Receiving feedback with calmness and rationality helps in distinguishing valuable feedback from unwarranted criticism.

Taking Risks, Reflecting, and Maintaining Confidence

13:32 - 20:23

  • Taking big risks in life without certainty can lead to greater success and growth.
  • Major decisions often involve uncertainties and complexities that make a clear 'yes' or 'no' difficult to reach.
  • Reflecting on past successes and failures is crucial for understanding the impact of choices made.
  • Maintaining humility and acknowledging factors beyond one's control are important for sustained confidence and growth.
  • Confidence should be based on evidence of past accomplishments while recognizing areas for improvement.

Confidence, Challenges, and Learning from Mistakes

19:54 - 26:27

  • Confidence comes from handling challenges and knowing one's capabilities.
  • Belief is faith without evidence, while self-awareness plays a role in understanding one's capabilities.
  • Imposter syndrome can arise when stretching beyond one's limits.
  • Facing challenges and setbacks can lead to valuable learning experiences and growth.
  • Mistakes and failures can provide freedom and perspective on worst-case scenarios.

Adversity, Reinvention, and Positive Energy

26:03 - 32:50

  • Nomadic backpacks are highly functional, durable, and well-designed with a lifetime guarantee.
  • Reflecting on past struggles can lead to seeing them as valuable experiences in hindsight.
  • The mind has a tendency to minimize feelings of regret and convince oneself that difficult experiences were for the best.
  • It's okay not to immediately see the positive side of challenges; acceptance and growth take time.
  • Adversity can lead to reinvention and new perspectives, as seen in Hemingway's experience of losing his writings.
  • Maintaining sanity, good boundaries, and positive energy is crucial for success in professional relationships.

Building Trust, Long-Term Success, and Craft-Oriented Approach

32:23 - 39:35

  • Building trust and not messing up is crucial for early opportunities
  • Long-term success requires staying power and not rushing into fame
  • Craft-oriented success leads to less narcissism compared to instant fame
  • Fame should be a byproduct of passion and skill, not the main goal

Defining Success, Integrity, and Personal Growth

39:10 - 45:46

  • Fame should be a byproduct of doing what you love, like playing the drums
  • Getting famous for something you don't fully believe in can lead to internal conflict and hypocrisy
  • Success should not come at the cost of becoming a worse person or damaging relationships
  • It's important to define what success means to you personally, rather than chasing external validation or observable metrics

Self-Esteem, Parenting, and Embracing Struggle

45:17 - 52:05

  • Exploration of the impact of low self-esteem on achieving success and admiration
  • Discussion on the generational effects of being a parent who does not communicate unconditional love and acceptance to their child
  • Analysis of using toxic fuel like bitterness and resentment as motivation in the early stages of a journey, but transcending it for long-term success
  • Reflection on the emptiness that can accompany achieving goals and the need to find new motivations beyond external validation

Life Experiences, Material Desires, and Personal Development

51:40 - 58:32

  • Realizing that the mountain you're climbing may be the wrong one without having climbed it is likely impossible
  • Accumulating life experiences helps recognize patterns faster and avoid hard epiphanies later on
  • It's easier to achieve material desires than to renounce them, leading to a struggle between success and self-awareness
  • Striving to be both successful in a field and a good human being is a rare balance worth pursuing
  • Choosing to prioritize being a better person over excelling in a particular field can lead to significant personal growth
  • Stop wanting things to be easy and embrace the struggle as part of personal development

Productivity, Routines, and Parenting

58:07 - 1:05:15

  • The speaker discusses how they deal with the desire to control things and the negative impact of expectations.
  • The concept of 'productivity debt' is mentioned, where starting each day at a deficit can lead to constant stress and tension.
  • Having routines and systems can be helpful but may conflict with other important aspects of life, like family happiness.
  • The speaker reflects on the idea that success should not lead to constant stress or emptiness, but rather a sense of 'enoughness'.
  • Becoming a parent is seen as a transformative experience that forces self-reflection and accountability for one's actions.

Inner Child Work, Parenting, and Breaking Generational Patterns

1:04:48 - 1:11:48

  • Watching the consequences of decisions can have a profound impact on one's behavior and self-reflection.
  • Inner child work involves understanding and re-parenting one's childhood self for personal growth.
  • Having kids can serve as a powerful therapeutic tool by providing insights into one's own upbringing and generational patterns.
  • Raising children offers an opportunity for self-improvement and reflection on past experiences.
  • Breaking generational patterns and traumas through conscious parenting is seen as a heroic act with long-lasting impacts.

Justice, Virtue, and Doing the Right Thing

1:11:27 - 1:18:43

  • Day-to-day decisions in our lives have significant multi-generational impacts.
  • Justice is considered the most important virtue that unlocks other virtues like courage and wisdom.
  • The pursuit of justice involves both personal character and positive impact on the world.
  • Knowing what is right is usually obvious, but the complexity lies in actually doing the right thing.
  • Florence Nightingale's pursuit of justice through nursing defied societal expectations.

Reimagining Medical Care and Nonviolent Resistance

1:18:17 - 1:26:06

  • A young woman, initially deterred by social pressures, eventually answers a call to nursing and breaks conventions to volunteer in a hospital in 19th century England.
  • She realizes the importance of competence along with good intentions in making a real impact in medicine.
  • She reimagines medical care by focusing on basic needs like proper nutrition and sanitation, challenging traditional practices.
  • Her work is portrayed as bureaucratic and unglamorous but highly effective in saving lives through strategic battles for resources and sanitary standards.
  • The discussion shifts to Gandhi's nonviolent tactics against British rule in India, highlighting his political astuteness and ability to undermine colonialism through mass media.

Challenging Colonialism, Transparency, and Living with Consequences

1:25:46 - 1:33:51

  • Gandhi's campaign to gather salt in India was a strategic move to challenge colonialism and exploitation
  • Transparency and honesty in business can lead to sustainable success and easier marketing
  • Living with the consequences of decisions and treating others well is important for personal fulfillment and avoiding self-destruction
  • Maintaining transparency like Marcus Aurelius can help avoid destructive behaviors

Role Models, Integrity, and Tough Decisions

1:33:42 - 1:41:05

  • Marcus has two role models in his life, one positive and one negative - Hadrian and Antoninus.
  • Hadrian, despite being destructive, sees potential in Marcus and chooses Antoninus as his successor based on a kind act he witnessed.
  • Antoninus becomes a model for Marcus to follow, influencing his decisions and actions.
  • Marcus faces internal conflict in deciding which role model to emulate - Hadrian's flaws or Antoninus' virtues.
  • The importance of having a guiding figure or standard to aspire to is highlighted in making tough decisions with integrity.

Rigorous Communication, Moral Codes, and Promises

1:40:49 - 1:47:56

  • Creating a fake podcast with a friend can help individuals be more rigorous and consistent in their communication.
  • Having clear moral codes and being honest can lead to significant achievements, as seen in the case of Harry Truman.
  • Making hard decisions that are right but unpopular can lead to long-term positive outcomes and recognition.
  • The story of poet Danielle Di Prima highlights the importance of keeping promises and maintaining integrity even in challenging situations.

Personal Discipline, Common Good, and Nonviolence

1:47:36 - 1:54:44

  • Commitments to personal discipline and public promises are seen as equal in the context of justice
  • Acting in consideration of the common good rather than self-interest is a key aspect of justice
  • Justice involves fundamental individual decisions that prioritize principles over expediency
  • Inherent moral capacity for fairness and righteousness exists from early stages of development
  • Practice of nonviolence requires immense discipline and transcendent spiritual training

Changing the World, Stoicism, and Earnestness

1:54:24 - 2:02:11

  • Non-violent defense strategies involve a mix of discipline, spiritual purity, and political savvy.
  • The ability to master oneself is emphasized as a key to changing the world, as seen in historical movements like the civil rights movement and Gandhi's campaigns.
  • The speaker reflects on being associated with stoicism and emphasizes the importance of being a good steward of the philosophy.
  • Stoicism is portrayed as a philosophy that encourages taking responsibility for oneself and making a positive impact on others and society.
  • The contrast between cynicism and enthusiasm is discussed, with an emphasis on embracing earnestness and kindness in one's approach.

Stoicism, Complex Decisions, and Virtuous Living

2:01:42 - 2:07:23

  • Stoicism is a philosophy that encourages positive engagement and making a difference in various aspects of life.
  • Stoicism should not be used to suppress emotions or enable unethical behavior.
  • The philosophy of Stoicism involves making complex and sometimes difficult decisions, rather than offering simple solutions.
  • Practicing Stoicism involves striving to live a virtuous life and being accountable for one's actions.
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