Stoicism – when things aren’t under control
I read a lot. When I discovered stoicism I was fascinated. It completely changed my way of thinking, accepting reality and uncertainty as well as understanding my position in the world. I discovered that there aren’t many things that depend on me, however, I can still try to build my happiness. Today we need stoicism more than ever. Watch the video to understand stoicism in crisis:
What’s going on now and why this philosophy can help?
The situation is strange. The coronavirus is something new to the world and when you mix it with the economy, global warming and some other human challenges it’s really hard to predict the future. Many people try to organize data and create some crystal balls to see the future but we know nothing yet (Jon Snow). We need more time and more data to make some predictions. Yet for stoics, it’s nothing new. Stoics are prepared for everything – they split between things they can control and they can’t (and accept the second one).
Stoicism in action.
Here are some principles that apply to this philosophy:
- Emotions come from within – if you feel stressed right now, stop watching news and consuming social media. Act on what you are capable of and see how motion creates (good) emotion.
- Acceptance of failure – you might get sick, you might die. Accept that and prepare as much as you can. Expect the best but be prepared for the worse. Dealing with your biggest fear and preparing for it will make you calm.
- Self-reflection – you want to be a good person, so be aware of how you spend your time. Watch your daily activities, do they make you a better or worse person?
- Be present and stop procrastination (single focus point) – we are surrounded by hundreds of distractions and a yet single focus point can be something that helps you spend your day wisely and productively.
- Stop worrying – it is our human nature to overthink but it doesn’t help. Work hard on good things so you will get busy and won’t have too much time to chew thoughts in your head.
- Appreciate the time given – everyone has this asset and you should use it wisely.
- Be kind – in hard times people need more support, directions, love, and help. Be that kind of person.
- Accept rather than fight – don’t fight with windmills. Do what’s in your control and gives you the power to act.
- Don’t complain – it doesn’t bring any value and make things worse. Search for actionable solutions.
- Be the minimalist – it’s easy to be busy. Think about your surrounding. What can you remove to have more space for life and thinking?
- Use (practical) wisdom, not opinions – quite often we hear some ideas but they aren’t applicable to our life. Instead, let’s focus on actionable ideas where we can really make an impact.
- Give meaning to events – you choose how you feel about certain things. Make sure you focus on opportunities not, fears.
How does stoicism Apply to the IT world now? Let’s start with upcoming challenges:
- Many companies will fail or have troubles (sensitive industries like travel, events or startups in the high growth phase).
- Senior developers will start looking for a job in the time of crisis.
- IT leaders require new skills like managing their Home Office team and keeping the performance high.
- A lot of pressure and stress from stakeholders.
- Before a company will spend money on IT they will think twice if they really need it and if the software is necessary (improves business processes).
- More uncertainty than ever in decision making, management.
- More flexibility required from stakeholders while working from home.
- You will be busier than ever (trying to adapt to new insights from the market) and far more situations you won’t be able to control or you are not prepared for.
How should you use stoicism to get through those turbulent times?
During WW2 British Government decided to print posters “Keep calm and carry on” which became a quite successful campaign to keep morale high. You can watch the video below with the full story:
To answer this question we need to understand what stoics say about our control zone. There isn’t much we can control in the world. In the crisis, it’s about our work, attitude, preparation flexibility, emotion resilience, and calm mind to work in an organized way.
- Don’t make stupid emotional moves, be being super-rational (intuition may fool you – how many times were you in such a situation?).
- Do your best and care about people.
- Don’t let negative thoughts and people surround you – you already have enough to handle.
- Wisely choose your single points of focus – what is important now? Why is it important? What will be the impact?
- Have internal peace and calmness – people need to be surrounded by such people.
- Accept uncertainty.
- Accept the worst possible scenario and stop worrying.
- Search for solutions.
- Celebrate small successes and make sure they drive you.
- Connect to other stoics and discuss your challenges together.
- Take offline time with your family, find some space in your head.
Where can I find more?
There are plenty of books and good videos that can help you understand the philosophy and apply it to your daily life. Below you can find a few recommendations:
- My Incredibly Simple Guide To Stoicism — Learn Wisdom You Can Practically Use
- RyanHoliday.net – Meditations on strategy and life
- STOICISM | How to Worry Less in Hard Times
How about your philosophy? Are you mentally prepared for what’s coming?