Meditations — authored by the legendary emperor Marcus Aurelius — consists of just under 200 pages of his most personal thoughts and life philosophies. Despite its rather short length, the book took me nearly a month to read, but not for reasons you may think…
Often after reading Meditations for just 5 or 10 minutes, I felt compelled to write down things I had learned within the pages. Surprisingly, I garnered business and even speech ideas thanks to Meditations. Aurelius’ advice and philosophies within the book have universal application…
Meditations: A Great Book for Entrepreneurs
Meditations is filled with Aurelius’ personal proverbs on life, manhood, being a leader, dealing with hostile people, work and duty. Virtually every paragraph in the book leaves you pondering his words and motivated to use the priceless advice to live a better, more fulfilled life.
Aside from The Bible, there isn’t a better book that I’ve read which provides as much guidance on how to live, lead and treat others. I don’t use those words lightly, either. And no, Meditations is not a religious book.
Anyone looking to better themselves (which I hope is all of us) should give this book a serious, attentive read. From how one should approach the dreaded morning wake up to accepting death, Meditations is the A to Z on living a full life.
Background on the Author Marcus Aurelius
For those who don’t know the name Marcus Aurelius, he was arguably the most beloved emperor in the history of the Roman Empire. He ruled for 19 years; and unlike the majority of emperors who came before and after him, Aurelius was deemed and incorruptible leader.
He fought off several threats to the Roman Empire during his reign, and believed life’s purpose revolved around service, duty and respecting the nature of the universe.
Aurelius was literally given the keys to the kingdom, and never once used that privilege for his personal gain. Despite being the most powerful man in the world, he remained balanced – stern when needed, but always understanding of others, even his enemies.
Aurelius could have drank the finest of wines and slept with thousands of the most beautiful women in the empire during his years as leader (which is what most emperors did), but he abstained from such temptations. He believed such discipline was required of a leader. In fact, throughout the book, Aurelius explains how one must deal with temptations in life, and that anything which does not make you a better man must be avoided.
Some historians believe Marcus Aurelius never wanted to be emperor, and that during his tenure he was quite lonely and often torn between what was right for the empire and right for the nature of the universe.
What I found most interesting when researching Aurelius’ life was that he never wanted Meditations published, which plays to the historian viewpoint that he was quite a recluse.
A Journal Written at War
Meditations is Marcus Aurelius’ personal journal. Allegedly, much of it was written while at war defending the Roman Empire.
Despite not wanting the journal published (he kept it a secret journal while alive), after Aurelius’ death it was discovered and deemed an incredibly valuable piece of literature. Against his wishes, Meditations was initially published in Greek, the language in which Aurelius wrote it. Since then it has been published in several languages and is deemed to be one of the best pieces of Stoic literature in history.
No doubt a valuable book for every person in this world… however, I found Meditations to be especially applicable to entrepreneurs and those in leadership positions. If the most powerful man in the world can remain as balanced and reflective on life and how to treat others, surely so can we. Whether you’re leading a Fortune 500 company or running a startup with a handful of employees, the entrepreneurial takeaways from Meditations will have a lasting influence on how you lead and deal with challenges.