History of Stoicism
Founded by Zeno of Citium in ancient Athens, Greece, this Hellenistic philosophy flourished under the Roman Empire’s rule, influenced by the teaching of Socrates and the Cynics. Although some emperors opposed its principles, many supported them, utilizing them to adjust their leadership process.
The modern definition refers to a stoic as a person who represses feelings or endures patiently. You might even imagine someone who is emotionless with the personality of a robot. But truly, stoics should be seen as someone not led by bias or emotional attachments. They put their personal feelings aside to better assess the situation at hand, subsequently solving the problem with more efficiency and a clear mind.
Above all, stoicism teaches sound reasoning through the four key virtues of its foundation. These are wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation. With these virtues, a person can achieve self-control and clear thinking based on logic. You shouldn’t let emotions drive your thought patterns or lead your actions. If we let them take control, we won’t find the endurance to weather hardships and the clarity to solve our problems with wisdom and integrity.
How it Applies to the Workplace
So how can the pillars of stoicism be applied to the workplace?
It starts at the intersection of communication and leadership. If you ever had a toxic coworker or a tyrannical boss, you understand the necessity of temperance in the workplace. You may have seen the effects of when your boss’s emotions run high, leaving coworkers depleted or afraid to make a mistake. Employees tend to work better under a less stressful management style. For productivity to thrive, workplaces need calmness and self-control. It even decreases turnover rates because a comfortable work environment tends to encourage loyalty.
A workplace that displays wisdom, courage, justice, and moderation fosters a higher quality environment. But it doesn’t have to stop there. You can also apply it to all aspects of life, shaping your choices with enlightenment.
Tips for Being More Stoic at Work
Mastering stoicism doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to develop and requires self-discipline. Focus on what comes naturally to you first. Who knows, you may already hold some of its qualities.
Understanding the basics of stoicism will also benefit your quest for better leadership. You don’t have to hold a high position at work to leave the status quo behind. You can display the pillars of virtue by facing challenges with integrity, treating your colleagues with respect and kindness, and processing complex situations with calmness and logic.
Here are a few tips to help you get started:
- Appreciate the effort more than the outcome. As employees, we like to focus on the outcome or milestone over the journey. But, this gives way to added pressure and stress, especially if the desired results are not achieved. By appreciating the effort, you can lower the expectations, releasing you to work more freely. Don’t let the end goal take your productivity hostage.
- Increase your emotional IQ. It can be easy to get caught up in workplace drama. But, it is good practice to not take these issues personally and maintain a professional demeanor. If you receive criticism, take it lightly and as an opportunity to grow your skills instead of falling into a meltdown. Temperance is imperative to displaying stoicism and works in your favor in every situation.
- Focus on self-improvement over permanence. Nothing is ever permanent in the workplace. Remember to assess for change. Your problems won’t last forever, and day-to-day operations evolve over time. Instead of giving your attention to the temporary things, look to develop yourself and what you can control. Don’t sweat the small stuff!
For stoicism to work for your life, it is important to look at the world outside of yourself. Your decisions should be based on the best overall solution to improve the workplace as a whole. With better level-headed choices, you can serve your team efficiently while keeping your side of the workplace drama-free and production high.