The Week in Review #18: Seneca on Gratefulness

After listening to a podcast with Ryan Holiday and Tim Ferriss earlier this year, I started reading some books on Stoicism. Currently I am reading “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca. It has been a fascinating read. I have never highlighted and bookmarked a book as much as this one. Yesterday I came across a passage which really resonated with me. This particular letter was on gratefulness and it’s importance in our daily lives. My favorite passage is reproduces below.

“The ungrateful man tortures and torments himself; he hates the gifts which he has accepted, because he must make a return for them, and he tries to belittle their value, but he really enlarges and exaggerates the injuries which he has received. And what is more wretched than a man who forgets his benefits and clings to his injuries?

Wisdom, on the other hand, lends grace to every benefit, and of her own free will commends it to her own favour, and delights her soul by continued recollection thereof. Evil men have but one pleasure in benefits, and a very short-lived pleasure at that; it lasts only while they are receiving them. But the wise man derives therefrom an abiding and eternal joy. For he takes delight not so much in receiving the gift as in having received it; and this joy never perishes; it abides with him always. He despises the wrongs done him; he forgets them, not accidentally, but voluntarily.

He does not put a wrong construction upon everything, or seek for someone who he may hold responsible for each happening; he rather ascribes even the sins of men to chance. He will not misinterpret a word or a look; he makes light of all mishaps by interpreting them in a generous way. He does not remember an injury rather than a service. As far as possible, he lets his memory rests upon the earlier and the better deed, never changing his attitude towards those who have deserved well of him.”

…Be Like Dave This week the CEO of Survey Monkey passed away tragically. There was an out pour of posts about David Goldberg and the life he led. I enjoyed reading this piece by Bill Gurley. It also fits into the theme of this week’s post on paying attention to the type of life we lead and what we want to leave behind. Far too often we overlook the long term and focus on the short term. Our interactions, character and contributions to society is what we are going to be remembered by.

To Invent the Future, You Must Understand the Past This was a long but fascinating read. If you are interested in the birth of Silicon Valley this article has it all. It also has some great insights into pattern matching and what is needed to truly understand how to build a successful company.

Ten things I learned studying ten of the world’s fastest growing startupsGrowth is an integral part of the success of any business. This article provides a great summary of the tactics and strategies employed by the fastest growing companies in the world. My favorite lesson was “Don’t try to boil the ocean”. Picking a niche and dominating it before growing into other segments is key.

Well, We Failed. Startup failure post mortems are very valuable reads for entrepreneurs. They provide insight of what worked and specifically what didn’t. This helps us to refocus our efforts and pay attention the small things that may snowball. The founder put together a gorgeous pitch deck for his startup be sure to check it out.

Valuation As A Scorecard In a world where 17 startups can raise a combined $1,401,700,000 in one day, valuations seem to be what everyone talks about. Fred Wilson writes a superb post that puts this number into context. If you are an entrepreneur and you are not subscribed to AVC you should subscribe today!

Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead. I recently resubscribed to posts by James Clear. He does a great job of churning out quality content every week. Would definitely recommend his blog. This post was a great read and to an extent summarizes the main point that Scott Adams makes in his book “How to fail at everything and still Win Big”. In summary it isn’t about setting goals, rather it is the systems that we need to put into place that get us where we want to go.

Wishing everyone a great week ahead!