By | Beatrice Cruz
Stoicism is a school of philosophy formed in ancient Greece which teaches the virtue of finding peace and wisdom through knowledge and the governance of nature. How can this apply to the workplace you may ask?
In the modern form, stoicism is the ability to navigate through all of life’s trials and tribulations without the rollercoaster of outward feelings and emotions that affect many. It is the ability to endure hardships with a relative sense of tranquillity and outward calm. And it is an approach that has been practised from everyone from Roman rulers, to U.S. Presidents, to CEOs of multinational companies. How can you reap the benefits of stoicism in the workplace, then?
Keep things simple
Why do we always insist on overthinking and overcomplicating things? For all that humankind has accomplished, we are still unable to solve relatively simple problems such as poverty and religious persecution. Simple in that they could be eradicated with a change of mindset rather than requiring revolutionary technologies that haven’t been invented yet.
Focus on the right things
“In the workplace, it is common for managers and staff alike to focus on the wrong things, and suffer from a lack of prioritising. If you are able to keep your eye on the end goal, then this simplifies the day-to-day approach that you should take. Everything else is just noise,” says Rufus Bright, a recruiter at WritemyX and BritStudent.
Your consent is needed
This is a central pillar of stoicism, and is best summed up in the philosophising of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius’ in Meditations.
“Today I escaped from the crush of circumstances, or better put, I threw them out, for the crush wasn’t from outside me but in my own assumptions.”
Once again you may think, ‘how does this apply to me in my job?’ Well, if you have ever uttered the words ‘Work is really getting me down at the moment’ or something along those lines, then you are relating exactly to what Marcus Aurelius was saying.
Understand that it is all external
Because work is an external force that has no real power over you. Think about it: you can walk away at any time, it is not something that can access your internal thoughts without you giving consent to that. Even your boss and your work colleagues only have the influence upon you that you consent them to have.
You have the power over your emotions
“Only you have the ability to give consent – permission if you will – for things to get you down, get on top of you, and frustrate you. It is actually a choice that you make, although it may not feel like it. The point is, by understanding the power you exert over all of these factors and feelings, you can start to take back control of your work life and regulate your emotions,” says Mary-Anne Shelley, a business blogger at 1day2write and NextCoursework.
Leave habit behind
Have you ever been frustrated by someone doing something mindlessly out of habit? Have you ever done something mindlessly out of habit? Of course you have, and it may even frustrate you that you do things this way. So stop!
This is once again about recognizing that you, and only you, have the power and authority to govern your actions and your reactions. Getting frustrated or feeling stressed because of the behaviour of others in the workplace is our natural reaction out of habit, but if you choose to see things differently, then you can have more power over the way you feel about things.
Have the right frame of mind
It really all boils down to frame of mind. Are you going to continue doing things the way you have always done them, just because that’s what you just do, or are you going to see things differently and break the chains of pointless habits?
Not only will you feel better because you will have more control over your actions and feelings, but this will have the not-insignificant added bonus of impressing bosses and colleagues alike with your ability to think outside of the box (although the box is really just the confines of your own behaviour) and become somewhat of a work revolutionary. But it’s all in the mind.
About the author:
Beatrice Cruz is a copywriter at both OriginWritings and AcademicBrits. She is also a regular contributor to PhDKingdom , delivering insightful articles on all manner of topics connected to the modern workplace.