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Keepin' It Real with Cam Marston

May 31, 2024

On this week's Keepin It Real, Cam Marston had a client breach a contract and he's trying to use lessons from Marcus Aurelius to keep himself from absolutely losing it.


I’m reading Marcus Aurelius’ book called Meditations written in about the year 175. They’re notes to himself about the thoughts he’s having and how he’s working to keep his head on straight. He’s writing to work things out. No audience in mind, just for him.

Throughout his writings several themes arise. First, he’s aware of the presence of death. The topic of dying is never far. Second, he has to keep reminding himself that he can’t control the behaviors of those around him, only himself. He controls his outlook on things and his attitude. He writes this over and over again. And third, his desire to do good. Always wanting to do good. For himself, for Rome, for the gods, for his troops. He’s consumed by doing good. Struggling to temper his reactions whenever bad things come his way. He’s focused on controlling his behavior. It's been a good read.

Aurelius had a number of people conspire against him while he was away on campaign. His plan was to return to Rome and forgive them. He died in route. It’s a very kind action in an era I often associate with ruthless and barbaric behavior.

I’ve recently had a client break a contract. Their behavior appeared willful and intentional but in hindsight, I’m hoping it wasn’t. It is a very large multi-national company. Every person I’ve met there seemed honest and genuine and sincere until this one thing has happened. A few weeks ago, I wanted to go to my small business colleagues and yell at the top of my lungs “Be careful. They’re not who they say they are. Don’t let the charm fool you. Be very, very careful.”

Now, not so much. My anger has diminished. I need to remedy the contract. I need to correct what’s happened. But goodness knows mounting a legal dispute would drain my small business. I’d go broke trying. Them? Hardly a blip on their radar.

So, how to proceed? What would my man, Marcus Aurelius, do? I think he’d remind himself that he can’t control the behavior of other people and his desire to do good and be kind should outweigh any anger, hostility and disappointment he feels. He needs to find the remedy without letting anger take hold. He may forgive them but he’d, rightly, never forget that it happened. And for me, right now, for what appeared like pre-meditated theft, forgiveness is a tall order.

It's amazing how unchanged our thoughts and emotions are in 2000 years. How the disciplines and thoughts and writings that a Roman emperor used to keep himself from losing it applies to me right now. I’d like to think that we’re kinder and more civil and sophisticated today. However, it’s simply not true. The virtues that Aurelius championed are as hard to bring forth in me today as they were to him 2000 years ago.

I’m Cam Marston and I’m just trying to Keep it Real.