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Business, psychology

Career Advice from Marcus Aurelius, CEO

  • 8 Tips from the Emperor

  • How to Become a God in 10 Days

  • Why Praise Doesn’t Matter

Marcus Aurelius ran the biggest multi-national of its day, Rome Inc.

He headed the army, the superpower of its time.

He was “hands on”, leading from the front, literally sitting around the camp fire with his troops on the frontier of his empire, as he waged territorial take-overs.

He ranks among the Top 5 Emperors of Rome and is remembered more for his love of reason rather than the wars he waged.

159e4731eeHe blogged incessantly (now compiled in his book, Meditations).

Here is his career advice:

  1. Nothing Happens Without Change:

Afraid of changing jobs, house, city, career?  Just remember that nothing occurs without change.

“Can you take eat food without transforming it?  Can any vital process take place without something being changed?  Can’t you see?  It’s just the same with you – and just as vital to nature.

Aren’t you the product of change?  Welcome it, embrace it, especially since it’s inevitable.

  1. Become a God in 10 Days: Want to earn the respect and goodwill of other people fast?

“Within ten days you will seem a god to those to whom you are now a beast and an ape, if you exercise you reason.”

Marcus means that it’s so rare to see reason at work that even your opponents will stand in awe of you when you exercise it.  That’s because applying reason not only transforms you (you make smarter, better, wiser decisions) it transforms people’s perceptions of you.  Thus you become appreciated, valued, and sought.  All in 10 days.

  1. Attend To What Matters: “The value of attentiveness varies in proportion to its object.”  You’re better off not giving small things more time than they deserve.  “Don’t waste time on nonsense.  Don’t be taken in by conjurors and hoodoo artists with their talk about incantations and exorcism.  Don’t be obsessed with quail-fighting or other crazes like that.”

Marcus probably didn’t watch much reality TV.  He said, “Our own worth is measured by what we devote our energy to.”   You only have so much attention, so spend it well.

Stop dabbling in office gossip, corporate politics, and who’s-up-who and get on with what matters most where you are right now.

  1. See Things as They Are: “Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact.  Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”   You act upon your opinions as if they were truth and thus create your reality.  But you may’ve misinterpreted, misunderstood or misperceived events.  In fact, I’m sure of it, since over-confidence plagues business decisions on all levels.7023a5905d8fef6b9739ccf9bbdaf3cdae6c58b069cc58bab0e8ee7199a412b5

Look deep, test your perceptions against reality, stop jumping to conclusions and opting for easy, soft answers.  See things as they are, not as you imagine.  As Edward de Bono says, your first answer may be correct, but it’s seldom the best.  Don’t just look; see.

  1. Let Evidence Guide You: Stay current; stop clinging to your old ways.  Don’t be governed by intuition, guess-work, habit and bias.

“It’s the truth I’m after; truth never harmed anyone.  What harms us is persisting in self-deceit and ignorance,” says Marcus. “Change your opinion whenever anyone sets you right but change only because you are persuaded that something is just not because it increases your reputation.”

Business thought leader Don Peppers says “Look at the data first, then form an opinion.  The scientific method always seeks disconfirming data.  That’s evidence-based management.”

Trouble is, says Don, you can lead a person to data but you can’t make them think.

Interview with Don Peppers:  You Can Lead a Person to Data But You Can’t Make Them Think

  1. You’ve Seen This Movie Before: What would you see in 10,000 years of life, asks Marcus, that you haven’t seen in 40 years?    It’s just the same stories being told and re-told, acted and re-acted, over and over again.

So pay attention to the ‘now’.  Whether business cycle or life-cycle, there’s a rhythm and repetition to it.  Pay attention; you’ll see for yourself.  The opportunity to learn is always here and now.

  1. Does Praise Matter?:  “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people but care more about their opinion than our own.”  Praise is extraneous.  The object of praise remains what it was—no better and no worse.  “Does the emerald lose its beauty for lack of admiration?”   Seriously, how much praise do you need?  From whom?  Why?  Just be an emerald and stop seeking attention.

8. Bee Together: “That which is not good for the swarm, neither is it good for the bee.”    Enough said.


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About Dr. Duff Watkins [www.execsearch.com.au]

international executive search consultant / author-- dispensing career advice about how the job market really works


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