Marcus Cicero (106 BC – 43 BC) was a Roman lawyer, politician, philosopher, and orator. He has had a great influence on European literature and thought. He is said to have penned “Six mistakes Of Man”. Here they are with a brief commentary provided by us after each:
1. The illusion that personal gain is made up of crushing others
The “win-lose” mindset is the most destructive frame of mind we can have. The sooner we replace this with the “win-win” mindset, the better for us. Success rides on the back of success. When we are successful, others also get better opportunities. The same works in the other direction too.
2. The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected
While it may seem obvious, we are all guilty of putting our energy in a direction that is fruitless. Successful people intervene in this thought process and move on. The key is to train ourselves to ask, “This thing I am worried about, is there something I can do? If so what is it?” Writing down the bullet points on the actionable items is one key first step in breaking out of the cycle of “pointless worry”.
3. Insisting that a thing is impossible because we cannot accomplish it.
Knowing what we can do and what we cannot do, is important. But there are many things we can do with the help of others that we cannot do alone. And there are many things others can do that we cannot. Just because something is beyond our reach, does not mean it cannot be accomplished and we should not roadblock others attempting to get it done.
4. Refusing to set aside trivial preferences.
Oh! How often we pivot crucial decisions based on trivial preferences. A friend refused an exciting job offer because he did not like the furniture and the décor of the place! It is important to state clearly the “why” of our objections and caste aside the trivial ones. Listening to one’s gut is extraordinarily important. But it is also important to articulate clearly what our gut is telling us so we differentiate signal from noise.
5. Neglecting development and refinement of the mind, and not acquiring the habit of reading and study.
If we are spending an awful lot of time using the saw, then it makes sense that we set aside time to “sharpen the saw”. The same applies for our skills. If our skills are crucial for our success, we must set aside time to update them.
6. Attempting to compel others to believe and live as we do.
Successful people are able to bring other people along with them. But they do not spend their energy trying to convince everybody and their brother about the rightness of their vision. The art of persuasion is tightly focused only on the relevant people and it is not at the cost of being able to listen and change one’s mind.
You may also like: On Being Wrong
Credit: The “Six Mistakes of Man” is usually attributed to Marcus Tullius Cicero (106 B.C.–43 B.C.) However there is no definitive source that proves this. We have taken the original “Six Mistakes Of Man” and added our commentary.