“A blazing fire makes flame and brightness out of everything that is thrown into it.”–M. Aurelius
Many terms are used to describe firefighters and their attributes. How about this one: stoic. No need for us to bury ourselves in philosophical ponderance. At base, stoicism is about cultivating a rational approach to recognize what is within one’s control and what is not. Digging deeper, it is about acceptance and resilience. The classic principles of Stoicism set forth by Seneca, Aurelius, and Epictetus are straightforward and concise. In fact, in principle, stoicism is leveraged by four virtues:
Courage is the mental strength to endure; persevere; and overcome danger, fear, or adversity. Courage is built on experience and competence. The opposite of courage is fear, dread, and anxiety, which are the result of uncertainty and inexperience.
Wisdom, as it relates to stoic virtue, is the accumulated appraisal of insight, judgment, and knowledge.
Self-control or moderation is the ability to regulate oneself–specifically, controlling one’s emotions and desires or the expression of those emotions in one’s attitudes and actions. This attribute becomes amplified in adverse situations.
Thriving in adversity. “Excellence withers without an adversary,” Seneca stated in Letters from a Stoic. We should not avoid hardship. Instead, we should adopt a more competitive attitude toward our challenges. Anticipate being uncomfortable but prepared. Narrow your attention to your task at hand. Focus your energies on those activities that will produce the desired result; this is how one thrives on adversity.