Demand the best from yourself

Have you ever read something and felt like the author is speaking directly to you?

I recently saw a video on Instagram from the Daily Stoic talking about a passage from the Greek philosopher, Epictetus. Epictetus grew up a slave and eventually became one of the most respected philosophers of the Greek era. The passage in the video is as follows:

How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason? You have been given the principles that you ought to endorse, and you have endorsed them. What kind of teacher, then, are you still waiting for in order to refer your self-improvement to him? You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man. If you are careless and lazy now and keep putting things off and always deferring the day after which you will attend to yourself, you will not notice that you are making no progress, but you will live and die as someone quite ordinary.

From now on, then, resolve to live as a grown-up who is making progress, and make whatever you think best a law that you never set aside. And whenever you encounter anything that is difficult or pleasurable, or highly or lowly regarded, remember that the contest is now: you are at the Olympic Games, you cannot wait any longer, and that your progress is wrecked or preserved by a single day and a single event. That is how Socrates fulfilled himself by attending to nothing except reason in everything he encountered. And you, although you are not yet a Socrates, should live as someone who at least wants to be a Socrates.

Epictetus – Manual 51

“You are no longer a boy, but a full-grown man.” That line…that line hit me like a brick wall. At 30 years old, I still feel like a kid. And that’s ok, in my honest opinion. However, certain situations require you to act like an adult. Whether that’s following through on promises, standing up for what you believe in, or even taking care of your responsibilities. A child-like wonder of the world is still ok, but when the need arises, you’ve got to grow up.

I really needed to hear that.

Even the line, “How long are you going to wait before you demand the best for yourself and in no instance bypass the discriminations of reason?” hits home. I’ve got to demand the best from myself just as I would expect the best from friends, family, coworkers, the grocery bagger at Publix, etc.

Goes to show you that even the ancients struggled with much of which we are still struggling with.

Time to expect the best from ourselves.

Get after it.

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