Difficulty shows what men are – Epictetus

A quote from Epictetus the Greek philosopher in his discourses.

The full quote is:

“Difficulty shows what men are. Therefore when a difficulty falls upon you, remember that God, like a trainer of wrestlers, has matched you with a rough young man. Why? So that you may become an Olympic conqueror; but it is not accomplished without sweat.”

~ Epictetus

I am only interested in the first phrase of this quote, without entering too much in spirituality and religions. Thus this post will be only about:

Difficulty shows what men are.

~ Epictetus

From a business perspective founders and CEOs that are able to navigate through difficult times are the ones that are worth the weight in gold. Any CEO and any founder can run a company when there is a long runway or when everything is running smoothly, but it takes difficult times to find the gems among the lot.

A CEO that was appointed on a company that is going well is not as valuable as a CEO that comes in bad times and turn the company around. Here i am referring to Steve Jobs, after he was ousted from Apple, and the company started plummeting, and it was when Steve joined Apple again as CEO that the company started succeeding again.

The same can be said for founders when they succeed to raise a big round granting a long runway. Versus, founders that are bootstrapping or that are running out of money and need to take critical decisions.

This quote can be generalized, to anything …
Friendship, war, business, popularity, scandals, you name it … The essence of the quote is that the true colors of a person appear when this person is facing difficulties.

Share if you care

Abdallah Alaili

I'm a serial entrepreneur (mostly tech) and micro-investor (tiny), this is a blog to learn from other entrepreneurs and spread the wisdom to many more. You can find me on: Instagram - Twitter - Linkedin - more about me