Do you start snoozing at the idea of studying philosophy? Does the mere thought of ancient Greek philosophers make you bored within moments?
If you’re not currently fascinated by ancient thinkers like Seneca, Cicero and Marcus Aurelius, you might be missing out on incredibly valuable information critical to your professional success. Just ask the likes of Elon Musk, Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos.
Many successful businesspeople have incredibly productive morning routines, but are you familiar with their incredibly productive personal philosophies as well? It turns out some of the world’s most successful CEOs and innovators reap the benefits of one philosophy in particular: stoicism.
The central teachings of stoicism — a school of philosophy founded in ancient Athens, Greece — remind us the world is unpredictable and ever-changing. Stoicism asks we think about what matters to us most during moments of chaos and gives us the tools we need to stay in control of our emotions and reactions.
As Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor, once said, “What’s left to be prized? This, I think — to limit our action or inaction to only what’s in keeping with the needs of our own preparation … by having some self-respect for your own mind and prizing it, you will please yourself and be in better harmony with your fellow human beings, and more in tune with the gods — praising everything they have set in order and allotted you.”
Billionaire Warren Buffett, in accordance with stoic philosophy, considers these ideals in his business decisions. For example, although Buffett has a net worth of around $77 billion, he still lives in his Omaha home, originally purchased 60 years ago for a mere $31,500. His supreme wealth doesn’t even majorly affect his dining choices either: He’s still a big fan of McDonald’s, home of the Dollar Menu.
“I tell my wife, as I shave in the morning, I say, ‘Either $2.61, $2.95 or $3.17.’ And she puts that amount in the little cup by me here in the car,” Buffett explains. “When I’m not feeling quite so prosperous, I might go with the $2.61, which is two sausage patties, and then I put them together and pour myself a Coke. $3.17 is a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit, but the market’s down this morning, so I’ll pass up the $3.17 and go with the $2.95.”
As someone who’s prioritized what truly matters to him, Buffett understands his priorities do not include luxuries like lavish homes or expensive food. He certainly has the means to spend extravagantly, but he cultivates low-cost interests to maintain financial freedom and further build his wealth.
The principles of this ancient philosophy can be massively game-changing for your workplace or your own life. Adjust your behavior or spending according to your priorities, and you’ll soon welcome success into your own business life.