I raised my daughters to develop programs. And by "programs," I mean skills and values that I knew would help them become their best selves in the future.
The concept of stoicism is one of them. I like to call it the concept of keeping one’s cool because, essentially, that's what it is.
Watch today’s video where I share how I became a stoic and how I ended up turning my kids into one as well.
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So my kid came home the other day and she asked me, "Dad, did you make me a stoic?" And I laughed and I smiled because I did, I did make her a stoic. Something that is happening to both my daughters right now is that they're realizing just how far I went to program them and make sure that embedded in them the process, the mental frameworks that would allow them to succeed in life. So my daughter goes on and tells me how at school they were discussing stoicism. Now, I don't know about the specifics of the conversation, but the teacher was sharing different quotes from Marcus Aurelius and various other Stoics. And she said that she found herself agreeing with everything up there and knowing a lot of the principles that were being shared. And that's when it dawned on her that I had probably had a hand in her awareness around these topics and these quotes, these mindsets, because I've been programming them since birth. And we all have, and we all do as parents and dads, that's exactly what we're doing. Only I call it programming so I make sure to remind myself that that is what's weird. And that's essentially what we all are doing as dads and as fathers, we are programming our kids. They are going to become some version of ourselves through our behavior, our conversations, our lessons, our everything. So, how did I become a stoic? Well it turns out that life made me a stoic. It's not something new. For one, I thought it was my unique way of approaching life that was allowing me to make sense of it all and succeed and also not lose my mind. But I found out that the simple principles are timeless and go back thousands of years. I'm the oldest of four kids that were raised together. It's another story of... I have two older siblings, but four of us were raised together. And as the oldest, I was responsible for taking care of my younger siblings at a very young age. That's a lot of responsibility to put on a six- or seven-year-old. But that was my role. And all you older brothers and older sisters, you know exactly what I'm talking about. It is just something that is normal, and it's something that is expected. I believe that that's what started to teach me how to manage people and how to try to behave better. Because, after a while, you realize you just can't beat your brothers and sisters up all the time to get them to follow instructions and not make you look bad. Yeah, I did that. Then when I was 16, I was hired as a sacker at a grocery store. And I stayed in the industry for 18 years and 14 or 15 of those years, I actually spent in management. While, for the majority of it, I've never really received training and had to figure things out on my own. And as time went on, I started to develop ideas and principles and mental frameworks to allow me to survive, thrive, and actually do a good job. By the time I was done, I was considered a pretty good manager. I was able to move people and get them to respect me. And a lot of it, I know how to do with the idea of being stoic and not losing my cool. And that's what it comes down to is realizing that you do have choices, no matter how bad things get, you have choices. And many times the choice is just taking a breath, thinking through it before reacting emotionally. And I think that's at the crux of the entire stoic philosophy– react intellectually and not emotionally. When a person is referred to as a stoic in our normal language, it's referring to people that are just kind of calm, never say much— they're stoic. So anyways, point of all of that is to say life has kind of made me a stoic. I had to be because I was in charge of a lot of people at various points in my life. And not being in control and not managing my emotions was a surefire way to lose the respect and trust of everyone that I worked with and including the customers that were shopping at our stores. I've been working with the girls since they were babies and making sure that I was infusing in them, embedding in them the same principles. Because the worst thing that they could become are individuals who are always acting emotionally and losing their mind when something doesn't go their way. As you and I both know, things will often not go your way. You can't overreact all the time. But in 2016, I came across a book by Ryan Holiday titled "The Obstacle Is the Way." And in the book, he lays out the stoic principles, and he goes into detail of who or who said what, and what this means, and what that means. And that was the first time that I actually saw it packaged and put together in a way that made sense to me. And throughout the book, I'm nodding my head. I was blown away by how much of what he wrote resonated with me and were principles that were already in place in my life. So after finishing the book, I decided that I wanted my girls to each have a copy. So I ordered two copies, one for each of my daughters to make sure that they each had one, obviously, 'cause I didn't want them arguing over it, and I drew their names in each book. And in it, I also wrote, "If you ever wonder what Daddy would do, read this book." In addition to that, I had them read the book, a chapter at a time, and then report in what each chapter meant to them. They both did it. They both loved it. And it made sense to them even at a young age. And of course, I'd try to make more sense of it for them. They were still relatively young, but the principles that were being taught in the book and the stoic principles themselves are really simple and could be applied into their young lives already. So imagine my delight when were at the dinner table, and then she's telling me that she's a stoic, and it's my fault. I'll take all responsibility for that one. She had forgotten reading the book at all, but the principles were in there somewhere. The lessons were in there somewhere. So when the teacher brought it up, there it was, it magically reappeared, and it became obvious to her that she was a stoic as well. She laughed, I laughed. We had a great time. And I reminded her, I've told them both this often, is that this is one of many things that I have embedded in them. And that I have been trying to program them with since they were children. Every single thing that I've been working on for myself, I realized that I needed it obviously so I added it to my fanny pack of tools, but if I could teach it to them when they were still young, they would already have these tools in their own fanny pack. And there's that lesson again. We need to be intentional as fathers and realize where we have our shortcomings and where we need to improve for ourselves as well as for our children. Be intentional. Be a better dad. That's it for today. Thank you for listening to today's podcast. Do me a favor. If you enjoyed this episode, drop me a five-star review, pretty please. Make sure to also subscribe on any channel that you're on to make sure that you receive the next episode in your notifications. And until next time, buh-bye.