Even though Aristotle isn’t around to teach us to bring out the Alexander in us (directly), we’re lucky to have his words well documented and derive leadership and entrepreneurial lessons in today’s context.
This is what Aristotle would most likely advise you if he were your startup mentor today:
1. Everything is good when done in moderation:
Whether it’s his treatise on ethics, politics, art or drama, Aristotle’s teachings have a strong thread of being able to find a middle ground. Being moderate is truly harder done than said. So what are we looking at in a business context? It means not pouring all your energies and resources onto a single task/ aspect. Diversify and see the big picture. It means diversifying and having a more holistic view of all your operations. In today’s world, moderation is incorrectly interpreted as mediocrity. However, being moderate with things means to look at things from a bird’s eye view and for a long-term purpose.
2. About making choices: wading through the grey areas
Many company choices are not always black and white. No matter how much data and numbers you may have at your disposal. Making an ethical choice for Aristotle, is a matter of balance. It’s about finding- as he likes to call it- the golden mean. Though he gives no specific way to attain this mean, it gives us clarity on the utmost need to balance out decisions. It also loosely interprets to not siding with the extremes to feel morally right.
3. “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
In business you’ve always got to be listening. When customers complain or competitors whine or shine, you must have your eyes and ears open and be able to judge for yourself if what you’re hearing is right and what you can do about it? You need to be able to not take things personal but evaluate pragmatically on what works for your long-term vision and what doesn’t.
4. Business ethics is not a matter of being, it is a matter of doing
Millennials are always looking for work that has an ‘impact’- to be part of something bigger than just a well-paying job. Therefore, knowing what you stand for as a business is paramount. Aristotle says you are a sum of everything you do, not what you say you’ll do or not what you simply believe. In this manner, the ethics and principles of your company are not principles in a rule book, they are tangible actions. As a company, when you stand for something, translate it into action before declaring it. You believe in gender equality? Prove it. You believe in the socioeconomic benefits of digital media? Show it.
5. “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.”
(Okay that’s how Will Durant translated the original quote from Greek, but the idea was Aristotle’s right?)
This is also my favourite inspirational sayings of all time BTW. Aristotle’s words couldn’t hold more significance anywhere than in business. Every single endeavour in every business must hinge on excellence. Ever gave a thought what differentiates crass from class? Its always the quality isn’t it. excellence of not just the product but also the excellence of the services and customer support you provide, the quality of experience that comes from using your product. All of it.
6. What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.
Aristotle spoke about choosing your battles wisely. In a business setting there are always a hundred things to do and 24 hours in your reach. We prioritise what we think is important and sometimes get involved with stuff that really doesn’t need our time or energy. Loosely interpret it to prioritising your to-do list based on what activities will get you maximum gains or save maximum losses. What say ?
Hope these teachings helped provoke new thoughts in your mind !!