Meditations – Marcus Aurelius


meditations by Marcus Aurelius - 2000 years old and still very valid for any leader

Meditations is an awesome book. I have been reading (and meditating with) this book off and on for the last 3 months. And will be re-reading it for a while. There is so much more to discover. If there is one book on leadership one should read, it definitely is this one. Not so much a how-to, but more an insight in the inner workings of great leaders (and how common they are). Assuming responsibility for creating one’s world is the key trait of a leader, and Marcus Aurelius sure was doing that. Heart in, all in.

Most Memorable Quote: (book.verse 12.22) “That all is as thinking makes it so” (and he continues: “ – and you control your thinking. So remove your judgements whenever you wish and then there is calm – as the sailor rounding the cape finds smooth water and the welcome of a waveless bay”).

Also, while digging into Meditations, I came across a quote from Virgil (Aeneid 6.314) that struck a cord: “tendentem manus ripae ulterioris amore” or in English: “out of love for the further shore”.

This resonates because it so describes my life, my soul and my being. It is what moves me forward, every day again. 

My context is different: Virgil used it in a passage crossing the infernal river of Acheron, I feel it as the perpetual crossing of my Rubicon. Again and again. Out of love for that further shore.

What makes this book an interesting read is that it provides insight in the thinking and being of the stoics. The Stoics provided a unified account of the world, emphasising ethics as the main focus of human knowledge. 

One leader-lesson we can learn from Meditations is the practice of keeping a journal. In my reading from and about leaders in the world, they all share the same practice: reflecting on how their actions impacted the world on a nearly daily basis. The practice of journaling helps leaders land their own learning and integrating the experiences they had that day.


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