Leaders Are Often Imbalanced With Amor Fati
Maybe you’re asking what the hell that even means? Otherwise, you’re likely wondering just how in sync you are with the proverbially, cards that life has dealt you. Not to mention the cards that have yet to be dealt.
Amor Fati is a Latin phrase translatable as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate”. It’s used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or, at the very least, necessary. Sound crazy to you?
If you’re a leader then your role is to improve yourself and others, grow organizations, help people, and probably it’s all centered on making money. Well, let me tell you about a great tug of war that exists among many leaders. It’s the conflict where leaders grapple with Stoic thinking intertwined with pushing the envelope of bending fate for the sake of profit. Then throw in the concept many leaders are forced to face, which is… cycle time reductions. In this case, cycle time reductions, equates to finding ways of making the impossible not only happen but also happen faster.
You may already be familiar with Stoicism. The Stoics were familiar with Amor Fati and embraced it.
The Stoic and German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche would describe his formula for human greatness as Amor Fati, translated to, a love of fate. “That one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it, but love it.”
Epictetus was a Greek Stoic philosopher born into slavery at Hierapolis, Phrygia. He was crippled and lived in Rome until his banishment when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the remainder of his life. He said, “Do not seek for things to happen the way you want them to; rather, wish that what happens happen the way it happens: then you will be happy.”
Robert Greene, who embraces Stoic thinking, and wrote the 48 Laws of Power, Mastery said, we need to “accept the fact that all events occur for a reason, and that it is within your capacity to see this reason as positive.”
Being in synch with Amor Fati is more than a choice. It’s the Stoic mindset that you take on for making the best out of anything that happens. This means treating each moment, despite how challenging, as something to be embraced, not run away from. To not only be okay with it but love it and be better for it. So like oxygen to a fire, obstacles, and adversity fuel your potential. When we accept what happens to us, after understanding that certain things, particularly bad things, are outside our control, we are left with this: loving whatever happens to us and facing it with unfailing cheerfulness and strength.
Amor Fati directs us to put our energies and emotions and exertions only where they will have a real impact. It centers our belief on viewing life as “This is what I’ve got to handle? Well, I might as well be happy about it.” The goal is not to feel, “I’m okay with this,” or “I think I feel good about this.” It’s to say, “I feel great about it, because if it happened, then it was meant to happen, and I am glad that it did when it did. I am going to make the best of it, and proceed to do exactly that.” If the event must occur, Amor Fati is the response. It’s unnatural to love things we never wanted to happen, but what other worse adversities might this one be saving us from is the enlightened perspective to elevate to. What might we learn from this unchosen experience? What good, equally unexpected events might result from it? We know that in retrospect we often look back at difficult times fondly, almost wistfully, so we might as well feel that now. That’s powerful precedence to deeply consider. It’s not to say that the good will always outweigh the bad. Still, embrace all of it. Don’t wish for it to be any different. You don’t have to like it to work with it or to use it to your advantage. Amor Fati, a love of what happens, because that’s your only option.
If you have not endeavored to learn about the Stoic way then you should. If you’ve previously dabbled in some of its knowledge then what’s stopping you from further embracing the learning to see what sticks with you over time? Being in synch with Amor Fati is a journey that aspiring great leaders must take as a responsibility to those they lead. It’s difficult to not abandon Stoic thinking when scared and painful emotions run rampant. In those times I suggest you remember my favorite quote from Friedrich Nietzsche
“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”