Stoic Thinking and Failure: Adjust Your Thinking–DeMarco Banter

Reason shows us there is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” ― Seneca, Letters from a Stoic

Failure is an inside job–inside our head. So is success–all depending on how we define it. If we want to achieve, we have to win the war in our mind first. We can’t let the failure outside us get inside. Back when I was flying and a much cooler person–we would talk senecaabout how many times one thing could go wrong on a check flight and the student would just give up–but wait, the flight is not done–keep flying the jet!  Things happen–many outside our span of control, we can’t always control what happens, but we can control how we respond. 

“The chief task in life is simply this: to identify and separate matters so that I can say clearly to myself which are externals not under my control, and which have to do with the choices I actually control. Where then do I look for good and evil? Not to uncontrollable externals, but within myself to the choices that are my own…” Epictetus, Discourses, 2.5.4–5

We certainly can’t control the length of our life—but we can control its width and depth. We can control the impact we have on those around us, we can invest in relationships. We can’t control the contour of our face—but we can control its expression. We can choose to smile.  We can’t control the weather—but we can control the atmosphere of our mind. Why worry about things we can’t control when we can keep ourselves busy controlling the things that depend on us?

Norwegian fisherman's cabins on the Lofoten at dawn in winterPonder the Norwegians, arguably some of the toughest explorers in history.  Norway embodies strength, courage, and resilience.  It doesn’t matter how harsh the climate or how difficult the circumstances; they always persevere.

That ability has become a part of their culture. They are a nation of outdoor enthusiasts—living on the edge of the Arctic Circle. The Norwegians have a saying that captures their attitude: “There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.


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