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  • Writer's pictureTom Foxley

Stoic Wisdom: 4 Essential Lessons for High Performance

Today I’m going to teach you 4 lessons from Stoicism that I impart to my highest performing clients to take them to their next level of lifestyle design and success.

First, know there are four main contributors to your mindset. Physiology, psychology, beliefs, and your personal philosophy.

It’s the final one that we will focus on today. The objective in developing your personal philosophy is to live consciously and intentionally according to a set of values.

Without this, you will be constantly pushed around by the winds of fortune: a “wandering generality” as one of my clients calls it.

When you live by a philosophy, you can banish so much of your second guessing that currently weighs you down.

You can also streamline your decision making, and accelerate your progress toward personal growth, and real-world success.

I’ve been researching, applying, and coaching philosophy for a decade now. Stoicism is by far the most effective school of thought for success in today’s world, and comes with ready made frameworks that take away a lot of the guesswork.

If your goal is to create more freedom and success through mastering yourself, and living a good life is important to you also, Stoicism is your starting point.

I’m going to share with you the 4 most powerful tools from Stoicism that will help you level up. They also happen to be the 4 tools I give to my clients over and over that have the greatest impact.

I’ll share how to:

  • Maintain positivity and belief whatever the challenge

  • Make huge progress on your biggest struggle

  • Find more calm and centredness in everyday life

  • Develop insane discipline and focus

Don’t blame the weather

As I write this, it’s August - the height of summer. Whilst the rest of Europe combats heat waves and wildfires, we’re about 6 days into consecutive rain, with another 9 estimated.

If I’m not careful, I quickly turn bitter about this weather. I judge it as a negative event…

“The weather is shit,” I may say. When I do, my mood turns negative and I end up complaining which inevitably bleeds into my attitude in all areas.

It also paints me as a victim of circumstance, not the designer of my life.

This judgement of events is something Stoicism teaches us to avoid.

If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this thing that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it” - Marcus Aurelius

Stoics refer to this as the Discipline of Perception.

Too often, we create our own suffering through undisciplined perception. Just as we judge the weather as bad, we gauge the meeting as a waste of time, the argument as inherently negative, and the marketing campaign as a total failure.

In reality, they are just external events, and with hindsight, this may be the best thing that has ever happened to you.

Here’s an intense example to drive the point home.

Years back, the death of a close family member brought me to my knees. I spent years resenting Fate for the blow this dealt my family and myself.

Now, I see it as the moment I truly understood that our time on the planet is fleeting, and that we have to commit as much of it as we humanly can.

Was that death a good thing or a bad thing? You can make an argument for both cases and as such it isn’t clear cut.

What I do know is that only one approach actually serves me: the reservation of judgement.

What are you judging as inherently bad or good?

The Obstacle Is The Way

When I work with clients, they almost always come to me with a big problem they’re trying to solve.

They view their chaotic lifestyle and lack of time as the thing preventing them from succeeding.

Or they say their personality is something that cannot be overcome…they will never be disciplined enough.

They’re viewing the obstacle as both immovable and unconquerable.

Stoicism teaches us to think about our obstacles merely as opportunities in disguise.

Obstacles are just the next level of the video game; the boss we need to conquer, the puzzle we need to solve. Not a permanent restriction, not a problem, not a frustration. A challenge.

Obstacles are the test you require to level up.

Obstacles are the indicator of what you need to pay attention to.

Your greatest obstacles are exactly what you need at exactly the right moment.

What are you currently viewing as an obstacle that could actually be an opportunity in disguise?

Control the Controllable

I am working with a wonderful client right now who is having a tough battle with a back injury.

It seems like every time she makes progress in her business or her training, her back injury strikes. Naturally, this would get her down.

But according to the Stoics, she was making a fundamental flaw.

Together, we drew up a list of controllable and uncontrollable factors in her life.

The amount of pain she felt was an uncontrollable factor. So were the stiffness when she woke up, and the immobility. We listed out about fifty other uncontrollable outcomes.

When she flipped her attention to the controllable factors though, she was shocked at how few there actually were. The Stoics would agree. You can control your actions and your attitudes.

Your thoughts are mostly out of your control. Same goes for your emotions. Same goes for every outcome.

Success - both in terms of real-world achievement, and inner peace - is about identifying the process and committing to it absolutely.

Obsess over the process. Forget the outcome.

Here’s a challenge for you:

Identifying one major difference you would like to make in your life, and isolate the highest leverage input that determines that success. Then ask yourself, how do you succeed in the execution of that task?

Set your values

Part of building your personal philosophy is identifying your values.

Values are stable ground in times of chaos. They help you identify right from wrong, and ultimately form the scaffolding of a life you love.

Without values, you are lost in the wind - you have no way of channelling your focus and no target to hit in the micro moments that actually create success.

You probably already have values, but because you haven’t made them conscious, you will often fall short of them.

This will mean you make slow progress, and feel conflicted about choices you need to make.

One of my values is Truth. Subconsciously, I always believed it was important, but never held it as a guiding principle until writing my values out.

Knowing this, and reflecting on it frequently has massively impacted my life for the better.

Seeking truth helps me have highly powerful and purposeful coaching calls with my clients.

It helps me create content that serves you, the reader.

Truth helps me settle disagreements quickly.

Seeking truth helps minimise my ego.

So a final question for you: what are your 2-6 values?

In conclusion…

Stoicism offers powerful insights for achieving high performance and personal growth.

By developing a personal philosophy and embracing the Discipline of Perception, we can banish self-doubt and embrace challenges as opportunities.

Remember to focus on controllable factors and the process, not just the outcome, as you work towards your goals.

Building your life on strong values will provide stability and guide your decisions.

Embrace Stoic wisdom, and witness profound transformations that lead to inner peace and lasting success.


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