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Every Situation Has Two Handles. Which One Will You Grab?

The last few months have been rough for me, as they have been for most people. Most of my talks have been cancelled. Without retail stores open, physical book sales have fallen by a third. We had two new employees start work on February 15th, in new offices we just had renovated, which now sit empty.  There have been trying supply chain and inventory...

The Definition of Success Is Autonomy

None of us truly control our own destiny. Fate has too much power over us puny humans. Still, we often suspect that were we just a little richer, just a little more famous, if we were in charge and got the success we craved, then we’d finally have some say over the direction of our lives and of our world. How naive this is. How many false prisons...

You Must Live an Interesting Life

When I was starting out, I got a really good piece of advice. An author told me: If you want to be a great writer, go live an interesting life.  He was right. Great art is fueled by great experiences.  Or, if not “great” experiences, at least interesting or eye-opening ones. That very encounter would illustrate that for me. I would go on to work...

13 Lessons Marcus Aurelius Learned From His Father

How did Marcus Aurelius become Marcus Aurelius? How did a boy of relatively ordinary bloodlines etch his name so impressively into history? How did a man given absolute power, not only not become corrupted by it, but manage to prove himself worthy of the responsibility? The answer is simple: The examples he was provided by his own stepfather made him...

33 Things I Stole From People Smarter Than Me on the Way to 33

Last year was the first year I really forgot how old I was. This year was the year that I started doing stuff over again. Not out of nostalgia, or premature memory loss, but out of the sense that enough time had elapsed that it was time to revisit some things. I re-read books that I hadn’t touched in ten or fifteen years. I went back to places I hadn’t...

It’s Always the Time to Act Bravely

In light of everything that’s going on in this world, I wanted to revisit one of the most important (to me) chapters in Stillness Is the Key. To see people who will notice a need in the world and do something about it… Those are my heroes. — Fred Rogers In Camus’s final novel, The Fall, his narrator, Clamence, is walking alone on a street in Amsterdam...

This Is Why You Have to Care

Then, as now, there was a lot of noise. There were people who had their own agendas. People who wanted to compromise. People who wanted to explain it away. People who thought there were bigger problems.  One of the most powerful scenes in the history of cinema captures all of this coming to a head. Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln is surrounded by grousing...

How Marcus Aurelius Conquered Stress (and the Rest of Us Can Too)

To say that Marcus Aurelius had a stressful life would be a preposterous understatement.  He ran the largest empire in the world. He had a troublesome son. He had a nagging and painful stomach issue. There was a palace coup led by one of his closest friends. Rumors that his wife was unfaithful. The Parthians invaded the Roman client-state of Armenia,...

Can You Be Still?

Odysseus is the greatest hero in all of literature.  He fights for ten years at Troy and then, in a stroke of brilliance, manages to end the war with a clever trick. Then for another ten years he fights his way home—facing storms, temptation, a Cyclops, deadly whirlpools, food shortages, the underworld, and a six-headed monster to return to his beloved...

You Must Stare This Scary Fact in the Face.

If you have ever looked at much ancient or medieval art, you’ll notice something: Death is everywhere. The French painter Philippe de Champaigne’s famous “Still Life with a Skull,” which shows the three essentials of existence—the tulip (life), the skull (death), and the hourglass (time).  The beautiful anonymous German engraving from 1635 that features...

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