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Ten thousand hours is roughly equivalent to ten years of putting in 20 hours of practice a week. Obviously then, perseverance and practice play an essential role in future success. Every bit as essential to becoming great at anything, yet less obvious, is the importance of character strengths, in particular humility and love.

Humility encourages us to seek and truly accept coaching and mentoring, and love is what allows us to give and receive the relational support of others needed to persevere through the inevitable ups and downs of life. It is clear that Mariota benefits from these two character strengths.

His humility is on full display during press interviews. When Mariota is praised, he deflects it to his team and refuses to take full credit for his achievements. Why are love and relationships so critical to success? By loving and being loved, we develop stronger hearts, giving us the capacity to achieve difficult things. The French word for heart is coeur, which is the root of the word courage.

While task excellence alone may be sufficient to achieve success for a time, truly great leaders know that a combination of both task and relationship excellence is required to sustain success long-term. The years Mariota spent developing his skills plus the connection he has with his family, community and team contribute to his success, which has spanned multiple football seasons.

We have opinions on whether so-and-so should have done this and we watch the media chatter about it. We get offended when our friends say this or that. This is a trap.

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This is a distraction. Even 2, years ago Marcus knew this. Focus on yourself—focus on what you might be doing wrong. Fix that. Keep an eye fixed on your own life. Marcus repeatedly explains why the pursuit of fame and praise is foolish and why we especially should not care about what others think of us after we die.

He points out that so many famous men have been forgotten, that those who would praise one posthumously will themselves soon die. He explains that there are no immortal actions:. He also explains that nothing is made better by praise, the beauty of things comes from the thing itself and not what people say about it. To think then that we are gaining something by being praised is a mistake. Marcus and the Stoics see doing good as the proper job of a human being.

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So why on earth do you need thanks or recognition for having done the right thing? Why would you need to be famous? Because you were talented? Because you were brilliant? Because you were successful? These things are part of the job too.


The desire for fame is just one of the pitfalls in life. There are many other desires, all of which can potentially lead us to act immorally. He cites a philosopher, Theophrastus, who claims that bad acts committed because of desires are more blameworthy than evils done out of anger.

A person who has been harmed was wronged, whereas the person with strong desires is ignoring the well-being of others because they want something more than they want to be virtuous. Desires can also lead to despair.

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Marcus addresses this when he talks about prayer, claiming that one should not asks the gods to satisfy a desire or prevent something feared, but ask them if they can remove the desire and be okay with whatever life gives to them. He reminds us that all of us will die, however, we only ever lose the present moment because that is all we ever have.

The longest and shortest life will end the same way and be finished for the same eternity.

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He also reminds us that we could die at any moment and to live to the fullest while we still can. Death overshadows you. Marcus teaches that we should act quickly to get our affairs in order and take advantage of our fleeting existence and live well.

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It is the way of our world that substances should change into new things. The changing of anything into something else is never harmful to the universe, and Marcus applies that lack of harmfulness to every part of the universe, including us. What can take place without change?

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What then is more pleasing or more suitable to the universal nature? And canst thou take a bath unless the wood undergoes a change? And canst thou be nourished, unless the food undergoes a change? And can anything else that is useful be accomplished without change? Being superior to pain and pleasure allows us to fully accept the course of nature and focus on being virtuous.

Our perceptions of events as troublesome are the real source of any unhappiness we experience, not the events themselves. Marcus believed that a person could immediately wipe any upsetting impressions from their mind and be at peace. He also recommended remembering the following whenever we experience anxiety:.

He explains it perfectly when he says,. Events can cause people to lose their cool and act immorally, but still they are not harmed by the events, but rather their reaction to them. And when it comes to problems, we find in Marcus a formula, an art known as turning obstacles upside down. As he would write,. Because we can accommodate and adapt. The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting.

So that setbacks or problems are always expected and never permanent. Making certain that what impedes us can empower us. Coming from this particular man, these were not idle words.

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In his own reign of some nineteen years, he would experience nearly constant war, a horrific plague, possible infidelity, an attempt at the throne by one of his closest allies, repeated and arduous travel across the empire—from Asia Minor to Syria, Egypt, Greece, and Austria—a rapidly depleting treasury, an incompetent and greedy stepbrother as co-emperor, and on and on and on.

It shows how some of the most successful people in history—from John D. Rockefeller to Amelia Earhart to Ulysses S. Grant to Steve Jobs—have applied Stoicism to overcome difficult or even impossible situations. Marcus knew that our ability to reason is what sets us apart from the animals and is an important power that we must use to the fullest. He believed like all Stoics that our reason could be used to understand the universal reason present in nature, which would lead to agreement with it even if events seemed harmful.

Our rational minds have complete power over our opinions and the mind only experiences suffering when it itself creates a desire for a specific outcome in life. Realize this, and you will find strength. Marcus teaches that our mind is a thing that controls itself completely and is separated from the world; it cannot be affected by events unless it makes itself be affected. Every appearance is the result of what the mind wills it to appear to be and the mind makes itself exactly what it is. Since this is so, there is no reason we should not agree with nature, since nature has provided us with the means to rationally accept the course of events no matter where they take us.

Be one. The impediment to action advances action.

What stands in the way becomes the way. Let that determine what you do and say and think. Bill Clinton reportedly reads it once a year, and one can imagine him handing a copy to Hillary after her heart-wrenching loss in the US presidential election. It is not outside, but within, and when all is lost, it stands fast.

Chinese leader Wen Jiabao has re-read the book on countless occasions. The best Meditations translation is by Gregory Hays. Sign up for our free 7-day course on Stoicism to see our interview with Professor Hays. It is highly recommended you first read the Hays translation. The best free translation, is by George Long.