October 8

“So the wise man will never provoke the anger of those in power; nay, he will even turn his course, precisely as he would turn from a storm if he were steering a ship.” – Seneca

This is different than not standing up to those in power. Well sort of. It is exactly the skill set we need if we are going to stand up to power. Because standing up to power is about influencing other people, people who might be used to being in charge, to alter their course of action. We can’t do that if we are going around provoking anger and starting arguments.

Sure that might work for us a few times, we might get results by arguing with others and by provoking anger, we might even get our own show on a cable news program, but we won’t be changing the world as effectively as we could if we made ourselves the type of person people came to for our perspective. The type of person who doesn’t raise offense but instead provokes thoughtful reflection.

We do this by detaching and seeing things from another person’s point of view, understanding their position and what they are trying to accomplish, and then finding a way to frame their position in a way that encompasses our arguments.

This takes practice, hard work, and most of all time. But with those three things, we can turn ourselves into someone who can actually influence others instead of someone who can occasionally berate others into doing what we want.

The difference is immense.

virtus fortis vocat

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