#2 How To Do What It Takes | Cleanthes of Assos

Reflection ✏️

A short reflection on a quote from Cleanthes of Assos about perseverance.

Cleanthes was the "second in command" after Zeno. As a former boxer, he came to Athens to study philosophy and, since he was poor, financed his endeavors by carrying water at night. After Zeno passed, he took over as the head of the Stoic school and kept Zeno's teachings alive.

Now, if that doesn't inspire hard work and dedication, I don't know what will.

Here is a one-liner from him that encapsulates his spirit rather well.

The willing are led by fate, the reluctant are dragged.

- Cleanthes of Assos

There will always be things we cannot control, we just have to accept and deal with those situations as they arise. This we could see as fate. Sometimes that's just how it's going to be. We will have to detach from the pain of the moment and do what's necessary.

But other times we will have control, we will be in charge, we will have the opportunity to change things. This is where we can lead our own fate and steer ourselves in the direction we want to go.

In fact, we can always steer our desired course. In control or not - it is the sum of your actions and the influence from the people surrounding you that make up your fate.

So take charge, assume responsibility for your life today. Take a long honest look into the mirror and ask yourself:

  • Where am I now?
  • Where do I want to go?

And not like where you want to go tomorrow for lunch. Where do you want to be in the long run? Who do you want to be remembered as? What do the people around you contribute to your success and happiness?

We need to muster the strength every day to make the hard and uncomfortable decisions.

The ones that we don't want to make.

The ones that take us out of bed at 6 am when it's dark outside to catch some miles before work in the rain, then put in the time at work, to then come back home and invest in our self-growth while others are drinking beer with the mates.

The real difference between someone who is putting in the work and someone else is, as Cleanthes said, the former is willing. They are able to detach from the mental pain required to go through the process.

Fortunately, that is a learnable trait. As an example, I like to look at special forces operators that constantly have to perform under great pressure with zero tolerance for mistakes. Those people are not born tough. It is a choice they make. They choose to focus on what matters and to make it work until they win.

So, don't be dragged by fate. Choose your path and stay on it.

Learning 💡

Don't wait for the best opportunity, it will never come.

Take matters into your own hands and start moving.

You can adjust your course and direction at any time.


Now we'd love to hear from you.

What situation have you dealt with where you chose to lead your fate instead of being lead?

Or maybe you have another great quote regarding perseverance?

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