Tony DeMeo

Meditations of Marcus Aurelius by Mark Foster

Anyone who saw the movie “The Gladiator” starring Russell Crowe knows who Marcus Aurelius is. He was a great Roman Emperor, but was also a great philosopher and leader. His philosophy was one of empowerment, independence and self reliance. These are very virtues that should be embraced and passed on to our youth. His philosophy is just as relevant now as it was during the Roman Empire.

Meditations of Marcus Aurelius was a book written to himself from his heart. It was advice he was giving to himself. It was like a journal or a self-help book for himself. As a result you’re treated to the most intimate thoughts of this great emperor.

One of the principle beliefs of Marcus was: The Present Moment is all you have. I reviewed Spencer Johnson’s book The Present earlier which was devoted entirely to this principle. Marcus trained himself to focus his total awareness on the present and turning away from the future and the past. He said”Discard everything except these few truths: we can only live in the present moment, in this brief now; all the rest of life is dead and buried or shrouded in uncertainty.” This is great advice for any coach worrying about a future opponent or the rankings etc.

Another bit of timely advice is to look at things without judgments. Never harbor resentment, accept things that come your way as part of life. Concern yourself less with what you have and more on what you are. Be true to yourself and concern yourself only on what you can control. No coach even the great Vince Lombardi was in control of winning or losing. A coach is ONLY in control of preparing his team to be in the best position possible to win.

Marcus also had some other sound coaching wisdom. Never blame anyone other than yourself. Always give gratitude but never expect it. Stop talking about what a good person should be and just become one. These are wise coaching lessons that have been used by many of great coaches.

“The Warrior Spirit” – don’t think about other people unless it’s to help them. Keep the mind from wondering toward malice. It should be clear to all that you are not about envy. A warrior overcomes desire, has a deep love for justice, and accepts with all his soul all that happens to him. He never craves approval. WOW is that something we all can reflect on.

The Fortress of the Mind – your mind is invincible when it draws into itself and calmly refuses to act against its will. The mind freed from passion is a fortress in which to retreat. Your inner truth is to be true to yourself.

Carpe Diem – make today special. Don’t concern yourself with malicious slander, it will pass. Replace the fear of death with the fear of not using life. Think of yourself as already dead and you’ll have nothing to fear.

I must admit I originally pursued this book because my wife, Joanne, was a Latin major and taught high school Latin, but I came away from the book with pages of valuable coaching advice. Mark Foster does a great job of making this book enjoyable to non-Latin readers. You don’t have to be a Latin scholar or history major to extract numerous coaching and leadership tenets from this book. I would strongly urge you to give it a try.