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17 Ancient Quotes that can Fuel Your Success

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17 Ancient Quotes that can Fuel Your Success

Often we rush after the latest idea, the great new method or the solution no one has ever considered. But throughout history wise people have recorded timeless wisdom.

Time management, personal relationships, mindset, comfort zones and perseverance were not unknown to ancient leaders. In fact most of the principles of success we employ today have been understood for many centuries. What you will find below are quotes from philosophers, kings, emperors, poets, lawyers, mathematicians, teachers and more. Every quote has been preserved for more that 1,000 years and still applies to your life today.

Here are 17 Ancient Quotes That Can Fuel Your Success:

“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome. Lived from 121-180 AD.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.”
Socrates, classical Greek philosopher. Born 470 or 469 BC, died 399 BC.

“Happiness and freedom begin with one principle. Some things are within your control and some are not.”
Epictetus – Stoic philosopher. Lived from 55-155 AD.

“Do not say a little in many words but a great deal in few.”
Pythagoras, Ionian Greek mathematician and philosopher. Lived from 570-495 BC.

“Difficulties strengthen the mind as labor does the body.”
Seneca the Younger, Roman Stoic philosopher. Lived from 4BC-66AD.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero, Roman philosopher and lawyer. Lived 107-43 BC.

“Happy is the man who has broken the chains which hurt the mind and has given up worrying once and for all.”
Ovid, Roman poet. Born 43 BC, died 17 or 18 AD.

“Whoever walks with the wise will become wise, but the companion of fools suffers harm.”
Solomon, second King of Israel. Lived 990-931 BC

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising every time we fail.”
Confucius, Chinese teacher and philosopher. Lived 551-479 BC.

“Good character is not formed in a week or a month. It is created little by little, day by day. Protracted and patient effort is needed to develop good character.”
Heraclitus of Ephesus, Greek philosopher. Lived 535-475 BC.

“If you do not change direction you may end up where you are heading.”
Lao Tzu, Chinese philosopher and poet. (Note that Lao Tzu may not have been an actual person, but the quote is still valid.)

“Good actions give strength to ourselves and inspire good actions in others.”
Plato, Greek philosopher and mathematician. Lived approximately 428-347 BC.

“Be still my heart; thou hast known worse than this.”
Homer, Greek author of the Illiad and the Odyssey. Dates of birth and death are unknown. Lived somewhere in the range of 1102-850 BC.

“They can conquer who believe they can.”
Virgil, Roman poet. Lived 70-19 BC.

“The desire for safety stands against every great and noble enterprise.”
Tacitus, senator and historian of the Roman Empire. Lived 56-117 AD.

“So in everything, do to others as you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Jesus Christ

The quotes above demonstrate that the basic principles of success in life have never changed. Having the proper mindset, moving outside your comfort zone, developing and maintaining healthy relationships and keeping focus were recognized a thousand and more years ago. Human nature has not changed and the ways in which we succeed, by stepping out and helping others, remain as the foundation for personal progress.

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Following the works of a contemporary author or speaker may match more with your perspective or outlook and there is nothing wrong with that. But sometimes looking back into antiquity shows you the long view. Technologies and methods may change, but what it takes to succeed in the world remains constant.

Let me close with a quote from the mid 20th century that shows the importance of learning from those who have gone before.

“Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.”
General George S. Patton, Lived 1885-1945 AD

More by this author

Troy Stoneking

Troy is a coach and speaker who helps people develop amazing relationships and love their work.

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Last Updated on October 21, 2021

How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

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How to Create Your Own Ritual to Conquer Time Wasters and Laziness

Life is wasted in the in-between times. The time between when your alarm first rings and when you finally decide to get out of bed. The time between when you sit at your desk and when productive work begins. The time between making a decision and doing something about it.

Slowly, your day is whittled away from all the unused in-between moments. Eventually, time wasters, laziness, and procrastination get the better of you.

The solution to reclaim these lost middle moments is by creating rituals. Every culture on earth uses rituals to transfer information and encode behaviors that are deemed important. Personal rituals can help you build a better pattern for handling everything from how you wake up to how you work.

Unfortunately, when most people see rituals, they see pointless superstitions. Indeed, many rituals are based on a primitive understanding of the world. But by building personal rituals, you get to encode the behaviors you feel are important and cut out the wasted middle moments.

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Program Your Own Algorithms

Another way of viewing rituals is by seeing them as computer algorithms. An algorithm is a set of instructions that is repeated to get a result.

Some algorithms are highly efficient, sorting or searching millions of pieces of data in a few seconds. Other algorithms are bulky and awkward, taking hours to do the same task.

By forming rituals, you are building algorithms for your behavior. Take the delayed and painful pattern of waking up, debating whether to sleep in for another two minutes, hitting the snooze button, repeat until almost late for work. This could be reprogrammed to get out of bed immediately, without debating your decision.

How to Form a Ritual

I’ve set up personal rituals for myself for handling e-mail, waking up each morning, writing articles, and reading books. Far from making me inflexible, these rituals give me a useful default pattern that works best 99% of the time. Whenever my current ritual won’t work, I’m always free to stop using it.

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Forming a ritual isn’t too difficult, and the same principles for changing habits apply:

  1. Write out your sequence of behavior. I suggest starting with a simple ritual of only 3-4 steps maximum. Wait until you’ve established a ritual before you try to add new steps.
  2. Commit to following your ritual for thirty days. This step will take the idea and condition it into your nervous system as a habit.
  3. Define a clear trigger. When does your ritual start? A ritual to wake up is easy—the sound of your alarm clock will work. As for what triggers you to go to the gym, read a book or answer e-mail—you’ll have to decide.
  4. Tweak the Pattern. Your algorithm probably won’t be perfectly efficient the first time. Making a few tweaks after the first 30-day trial can make your ritual more useful.

Ways to Use a Ritual

Based on the above ideas, here are some ways you could implement your own rituals:

1. Waking Up

Set up a morning ritual for when you wake up and the next few things you do immediately afterward. To combat the grogginess after immediately waking up, my solution is to do a few pushups right after getting out of bed. After that, I sneak in ninety minutes of reading before getting ready for morning classes.

2. Web Usage

How often do you answer e-mail, look at Google Reader, or check Facebook each day? I found by taking all my daily internet needs and compressing them into one, highly-efficient ritual, I was able to cut off 75% of my web time without losing any communication.

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3. Reading

How much time do you get to read books? If your library isn’t as large as you’d like, you might want to consider the rituals you use for reading. Programming a few steps to trigger yourself to read instead of watching television or during a break in your day can chew through dozens of books each year.

4. Friendliness

Rituals can also help with communication. Set up a ritual of starting a conversation when you have opportunities to meet people.

5. Working

One of the hardest barriers when overcoming procrastination is building up a concentrated flow. Building those steps into a ritual can allow you to quickly start working or continue working after an interruption.

6. Going to the gym

If exercising is a struggle, encoding a ritual can remove a lot of the difficulty. Set up a quick ritual for going to exercise right after work or when you wake up.

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7. Exercise

Even within your workouts, you can have rituals. Spacing the time between runs or reps with a certain number of breaths can remove the guesswork. Forming a ritual of doing certain exercises in a particular order can save time.

8. Sleeping

Form a calming ritual in the last 30-60 minutes of your day before you go to bed. This will help slow yourself down and make falling asleep much easier. Especially if you plan to get up full of energy in the morning, it will help if you remove insomnia.

8. Weekly Reviews

The weekly review is a big part of the GTD system. By making a simple ritual checklist for my weekly review, I can get the most out of this exercise in less time. Originally, I did holistic reviews where I wrote my thoughts on the week and progress as a whole. Now, I narrow my focus toward specific plans, ideas, and measurements.

Final Thoughts

We all want to be productive. But time wasters, procrastination, and laziness sometimes get the better of us. If you’re facing such difficulties, don’t be afraid to make use of these rituals to help you conquer them.

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More Tips to Conquer Time Wasters and Procrastination

 

Featured photo credit: RODOLFO BARRETO via unsplash.com

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