The Stoics placed a strong emphasis on virtue, personal development, and the cultivation of meaningful relationships. While they did not specifically address modern concepts like networking, their principles can easily be applied to this aspect of professional life. We gathered some of the best Stoic quotes and applied them to professional growth networking.
Who Were the Stoics?
The Stoics were members of a philosophical school called Stoicism, which originated in ancient Greece and later became influential in ancient Rome. The school was founded by Zeno of Citium in the early 3rd century BCE. Stoicism focused on the development of personal virtue, wisdom, and resilience in the face of life's challenges. Some of the most popular Stoics are Seneca (advisor to Emperor Nero), Epictetus (former slave turned philosopher), and Marcus Aurelius (Roman Emperor and author of Meditations).
Today, Stoicism is widely applied in business and sports. Life coaches, leaders, and business titans use Stoic teaching to help people become more resilient, content, honorable, and judicious. Stoicism has been used by some of history’s greatest leaders as Stoics deeply understood the importance of community and servant leadership.
Lessons from the Stoics on Lead Groups
Okay, so lead groups weren’t formally around when the Stoics were, but there are a lot of lessons they taught us that we can easily apply. Their teachings impact self-governing and the way we treat others and that’s why ancient Stoicism has modern practical applications even over two thousand years later.
Here’s what the Stoics advise and how we can apply that thinking to our actions in lead groups and networking:
Focus on Virtue
*“It’s time you realized that you have something in you more powerful and miraculous than the things that affect you and make you dance like a puppet.” – Marcus Aurelius * The Stoics believed that the pursuit of virtue should be the primary goal of one's life. When networking, prioritize building genuine connections based on integrity, honesty, and mutual respect. Seek to add value to others' lives rather than solely focusing on personal gain.
*“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” - Epictetus * The Stoics emphasized the importance of understanding and empathy. When networking, try to put yourself in others' shoes and understand their needs, interests, and goals. Actively listen and show genuine interest in what others have to say. This empathetic approach can foster strong and lasting connections.
Control Your Reactions
*“We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more in imagination than in reality.” – Seneca * The Stoics taught us that we have control over our thoughts, emotions, and reactions. When faced with challenges or setbacks in networking, maintain your composure and respond rationally rather than reacting impulsively. This can help you handle difficult situations with grace and maintain positive relationships.
Accept Rejection and Failure
*“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.” – Seneca * Rejection is an inevitable part of networking. Stoic philosophy encourages embracing such challenges as opportunities for growth. If someone declines your request or you don't achieve the desired outcome, view it as a chance to learn and improve. Remain resilient and persistent in your networking efforts.
*“First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.” – Epictetus * Stoics understood that life is never as long as you need it to be to accomplish everything you’d like. Instead of wandering around waiting for things to happen, the Stoics urged followers of Stoicism to dedicate their lives to notable pursuits. Part of that dedication involves deciding on goals. The same is important in your leads group. Don’t simply show up and expect things to happen. Define your goals for the group and you will have something to measure your success against.
Be Authentic and Honest
*In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.” – Marcus Aurelius * Stoicism emphasizes living by one's true nature. When networking, be authentic and genuine in your interactions. Present yourself honestly, highlighting your strengths and capabilities, while acknowledging your limitations. People appreciate authenticity and are more likely to trust and connect with individuals who are true to themselves.
Safeguard Your Time
*“People are frugal in guarding their personal property; but as soon as it comes to squandering time, they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.” – Seneca * One of the most important things you have is your time. When considering the return on investment of any project or networking, note the time involved. Does giving more of your time in a targeted way improve the outcome? Then do more of that. If it doesn’t, why hand over one of your most precious commodities?
*“It is not the man who has too little, but the man who craves more, that is poor. ” - Seneca * The Stoics emphasized the importance of gratitude to maintain perspective and contentment. Express gratitude for the connections you have made and the opportunities that networking brings. Show appreciation for the help, advice, or support received from others. Gratitude helps foster positive relationships and encourages reciprocity.
Remember, networking is about building meaningful connections and mutually beneficial relationships. Applying these Stoic principles can guide you in developing authentic, respectful, and valuable connections with others.
Now, if we’re going to follow the teachings of Marcus Aurelius, we must stop dwelling on what we should follow and go out and do. “Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be One.”
So, what do you say? What will you do today?