Cory is CEO of Galbraith Communications.
In all of history, there has never been a more intriguing character than Socrates. The ancient Greek Philosopher had much to say that is highly relevant to our lives today. His advice is bang on for leadership development in this modern age.
Yet historians are not sure Socrates even existed. He may, in fact, have been nobody. There is no proof he wrote anything. All that we know about Socrates was written by others who claim to have known him: among these were other famous names from Greek history – Plato and Aristotle.
Whether Socrates was a real person, or a creation, his inspirational words and teachings can be transferred to today’s circumstances.
- It is not living that matters, but living rightly
Today, more than ever, people seek meaning and purpose in their lives. Many jobs seem void of any purpose, so people seek their purpose outside of the workplace – in volunteering, helping family and friends. Living rightly is discovering your core values and living by them, to entrench your objective in life. As a leader, or even as a departmental manager, emphasize the meaning behind the work people are doing. Help them understand that there is a greater purpose than just carrying out otherwise meaningless tasks.
Draw a line between the tasks people do and the end goal.
- I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing
The most effective leaders admit they do not know everything. They leverage the knowledge and experience of others to get things done.
Socrates was a big believer in humility as a catalyst to learn and grow.
- He is a man of courage who does not run away, but remains at his post and fights against the enemy
Face your troubles head on. They will seem much smaller that way. Don’t put off difficult conversations. Get them out of the way as quickly as you can.
The longer you wait to deal with a troublesome issue, the bigger the issue will become in your head, until it will be so enormous, it will completely overwhelm you.
- The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be
Follow your dreams. Create the mindset of what you would like to be. Want to be a CEO? Think like one. Want to be a manager? Think like a manager. Take ownership over the role, and roles, you desire in this life.
You really can literally think your way into positions.
- Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live
Here, Socrates puts the emphasis on what is really important – and that is leading a life truly lived. In his time, and certainly today, many people just “exist”. They eat, sleep and repeat. Life is so much more. Get out of the boardroom and live life to the fullest.
You have an obligation not to waste your life.
- Wisdom begins in wonder
Today’s hectic pace of life leaves little room for exploring our interests and curiosities. Take just ten minutes from your day to research something of general interest.
Expanding your knowledge, in any and all areas, will bode well for you and your career.
- Beware the barrenness of a busy life
Socrates knew that busyness for the sake of busyness is meaningless and can, in fact, be counterproductive. While reported centuries ago, these words are more relevant today than ever. If you can be less busy but accomplish more, then that is a worthy goal.
Tomorrow’s successful leaders won’t have cell phones and won’t be that busy. They’ll be working smart…like Socrates.
Take the mind of Socrates with you to work today!