Philosophy may not sound like the most exciting thing to learn about. How could, for example, ancient minds and thought leaders such as Cicero, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius possibly engage us today?
Let me tell you a secret: They can, and their teachings are instrumental in the success of some of today's most notable business people.
From Jeff Bezos to Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates, many hugely successful business people today reap the benefits of something called stoic philosophy. And if you would like to experience some measure of success that they do, learning what stoicism is and what it teaches is a great place to start.
Ryan Holiday is founder of creative advisory firm Brass Check. Holiday recently released a list of six books that he says best relay the philosophies of stoicism and slowness in a society that doesn't stop.
His No. 1 book? Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.
It is the definitive text on self-discipline, personal ethics, humility, self-actualization, strength, and stillness. If you read it and aren't profoundly changed by it, it's probably because as Aurelius says "what doesn't transmit light creates its own darkness."
At the heart of stoicism is a spotlight on how unpredictable the world can be--and as we all know, that is fundamentally true. I learned that many years ago for myself when I was laid off from my corporate job as a manager because of budget cuts. The job I thought I would have forever was suddenly no longer there.
In fact, it was that traumatic event that led me to become a professional writer--something that turned out to be much more in harmony with my true purpose in life. In the words of Marcus Aurelius in Meditations:
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.
So, as you consider what book to read next, it might not be a bad idea to put this ancient book of philosophy at the top of your list.