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Marcus Aurelius' 10 rules for being an exceptional leader

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The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161 to 180 A.D. and has maintained the reputation for being the ideal wise leader whom Plato called a "philosopher king."

His book "Meditations" has inspired leaders for centuries because of its timeless wisdom about human behavior.

It's a collection of personal writings from the chaotic last decade of his life. This turmoil inspired him to develop his interpretation of Stoic philosophy, which focused on accepting things out of one's control and maintaining mastery over one's emotions.

We've taken a look at a section from Book 11 in which Marcus reminds himself of leadership lessons he learned.

Using Gregory Hays' accessible translation of the ancient Greek (Marcus used the language of his philosophical heroes), we've broken down his 10 points into further simplified language, contextualized by the rest of Marcus' ideology.

Marcus believed that even though there will always be people who live selfishly and those who want to destroy others, mankind was meant to live in harmony. "That we came into the world for the sake of one another," he writes.

And within society, leaders such as himself emerge. And it is their duty to be the guardian of their followers.



Remember that every one of your followers, every one of your superiors, and every one of your enemies is a human being who eats and sleeps and so forth. It sounds obvious, but it is easy to belittle or to magnify the importance of others when you are making a decision about them.

Remember that every person has dignity and pride.



When a person makes a decision that offends you, Marcus writes, first consider whether they were "right to do this" in the sense that they are acting in a way that is morally acceptable, even if it is against your own self-interest. In that case, do not spend energy complaining about it.

If, however, they are behaving in a reprehensible way, consider their actions to be based in ignorance. It's for this reason that many of these offenders "resent being called unjust, or arrogant, or greedy," Marcus writes. When dealing with your followers, punishment or chastisement should thus be done in an educational way.



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