Although ancient Greek philosophy isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of modern tech startups, during your startup journey you’ll find that a large part of your struggles are related to your own character and are not that unique to modernity. Some of the best advice on the subject is one that has withstood the test of centuries.
In this article, we continue our dive into ancient wisdom applied to a modern startup context by exploring 10 quotes from four famous Ancient Greek philosophers.
1. Plato Quotes
“The worst of all deceptions is self-deception.”
Self-deception can be a detrimental pitfall for startup founders. This is why the key to success in early-stage startups usually lies in validating your own ideas and assumptions before investing resources into building a real business.
“For a man to conquer himself is the first and noblest of all victories.”
As mentioned earlier, most of your struggles as a founder would be related to your own character. You’d have to find the strength to push yourself to do the things that you know need to be done despite being outside of your comfort zone.
2. Aristotle Quotes
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Success doesn’t come from occasional bouts of inspiration and passion. It comes from putting in excellent work day in and day out.
Through continuous learning, refining skills, and embracing a growth mindset, you can create a foundation for long-term success. Is your average day something that would lead you to success if you repeat it indefinitely?
“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.”
Daring to succeed is synonymous with accepting that you might fail and being OK with bearing these consequences. You need the courage to face daily the never-ending uncertainties of the life of a startup founder.
“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”
While this quote is focused on building character (which is entirely applicable to startups), it is also how you build skills. You learn to build by building, to sell by selling, etc.
3. Heraclitus Quotes
“Character is destiny.”
This is another iteration of the idea that in order to succeed, you need to become a person capable of success. Focusing on personal and professional growth is crucial for your long-term success.
“There is nothing permanent except change.”
This is a statement that you need to celebrate, because as a startup founder change and volatility are the environment in which you can out-maneuver and out-smart the established big players on the market. Without change, there would be no startups. Dealing successfully with considerable changes in the world is why innovation is required in the first place.
“Big results require big ambitions.”
Last but not least, you need to be comfortable thinking about scale. Startup success is quite often nothing more than finding small-scale validation for the solution of a problem and scaling it up sustainably to a larger market.
4. Socrates Quotes
“The way to gain a good reputation is to endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
Since projects come and go, a good reputation of competence and integrity is crucial for your long-term professional success, and the startup field is no different.
Don’t sell your integrity for short-term gains. You win at the startup game by being able to play for as long as possible, and you need the support of people around you to do so.
“An unexamined life is not worth living.”
Finally, it’s worth stopping every once in a while to check the compass and evaluate if you are on the right track professionally (and personally). Successfully building a business from scratch is an extremely difficult task. Make sure you are doing it for the right reasons and that you are enjoying the journey, not just coveting the destination.
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