One of the characteristics of stoicism is shared by mind training in the martial arts. It’s this idea of being centered in a way that does not fall into the excesses of positivism/elation or negativity/getting bummed out. If we imagine a sine wave, it’s about keeping our own peaks and valleys rather steady. It’s the idea of a calm or still mind, both on a good day or on a bad day. Far from being emotionally stunted, stoicism suggests that the so-called Middle Way provides a more stable and reliable place to live and react from. If I live too far out on the edges of the peaks or valleys, I have to travel too far to get back to the spot that lies halfway in between. So why not make that spot home?
My own art is Jiu Jitsu, since 1990. From my perspective, we can take this martial arts cross relationship into this whole idea of ‘letting go.’ In a sense, there is an element of Buddhist detachment. But it’s certainly not about being ambivalent regarding outcomes. I think of it kind of like a captain at sea in a raging storm: I want that person to stay calm, with their mind clear. Steady.
When I navigate the world of a startup, there are many things to pull me this way or that, ranging from distractions to depression, or into worlds of uncertainty and the always present unknown. But the calm mind, always trying to find and balance on that shifting notion of ‘center’, as I see it, has the best chance of surviving the storm.