Here are the lessons I learned from history that can be of help in your mission for success in life today.
I have always been a history buff. My wife on the other hand doesn’t really get why we should care about what happened hundreds or even thousands of years ago. I try to explain to her that knowing the past helps us to understand the present; to understand society and how it has evolved, humans and how they have evolved, and to teach us great lessons that we might follow.
She kind of acknowledges this as a good idea, but it doesn’t really effect how she goes about her daily life.
And I guess that’s a big difference. There are people who are interested in the big picture of society and history and how the world works. And there are people who accept the world and their place in it. Well far be it from me to judge; however, for me history is a great source of inspirational knowledge that I can use on my mission towards success.
And I find it interesting.
The following lessons come from one afternoon binge watching The Roman Empire on Netflix.
Success Lessons from History
Rome wasn’t Built in a Day
Now let’s get the old obvious chestnut out of the way – Rome wasn’t built in a day. We all know this one and so I’m not going to bother numbering it. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and anything that you want to achieve of great value won’t be done in 1 day either. It will take a long time, probably longer than you ever imagined and more work than you started out to do. But if you build something right, then it could just be eternal.
Rome the eternal city. It wasn’t built in a day, but it lasts until today, not only in ruins stretching all over its former territorial glory, but still in the hearts and minds of many. There are whole groups of devoted fans of Rome. And what were the ingredients that built this eternal power? Glory, grandeur, hard work, and vision; the vision of civilization.
The dream of every Roman was glory and power. They were ambitious and that’s what drove them to build something that would be remarkable; something to be marveled at 2000 years later. And it took hard-work. Obviously the hard work of slaves, but also of the ever industrious Roman legions. They saw a worthy task and they did it, they did it fast and they learned to do it smart. And finally, they had a vision. Rome meant civilization, they were the light in the world and all those smelly tribes outside were stupid barbarians. They had a great story that made them important and powerful and meaningful in the world.
Obviously, I’m not arguing that everything Rome did was ‘good’ or ‘right’. I don’t believe in slavery and I know they were down-right savages at times. But the good side of Rome is the foundation of our modern society and it endured for a reason.
Success Lesson from History
So the first obvious lesson is great things can’t be built in one day. But if you aim big, you work hard, and you have a great story of importance and meaning, then you can build something that is Epic, in every meaning of the word.
So that was unofficial rule one, the one everyone knows.
Here’s the specific 6 lessons from History inspired by The Roman Empire on Netflix:
1. Caesar’s Playbook
So I lied earlier, this was lessons from more than one afternoon guilty binge on Netflix. It was actually the whole 3 season binge. But anyway …
The first rule comes to us courtesy of the late, great, immortal, titan on historical conquest, Julius Caesar.
When Julius Caesar was a young man, he was a lowly soldier fighting his way up the ranks. He was a strong young man from a previously prominent family, but his family had lost it all when they backed the wrong faction in a civil war. Instead of fortune and power, Julius was left with little, but a burning desire to be great again.
Much could be learned from Caesar’s rise to prominence. First he aligned himself with a rich and powerful Roman who led the legions against the infamous slave Spartacus. Also, his reputation was for valor, being reckless and lethal on the battlefield. He was also a great diplomat, negotiating his way into consul of Rome buy manipulating the dispute between the two most powerful men in Rome.
That’s a lot of lessons about alignment, personal displays of competence, building reputation, using intelligence alongside strength, and lessons on negotiation. However, for now our focus is on his final assent to ultimate power.
Success Lesson from History
But to boil it down to a quick lesson, if you want to be a run-away success, maybe try Caesar’s playbook.
- Get ambitious
- Display fearless courage and great capability
- Align yourself with those in powerful positions
- Use intelligence to negotiate your way into a higher position of power.
2. A Setback is not a Loss
After these early successes, rising from lowly soldier to the consul or Rome, pretty much the president of the mighty Roman republic, he then had a major setback. He was sent away because the 2 most powerful men in Rome, the ones he had maneuvered around previously, were scared of his popularity and power.
They decided Caesar in his role as Consul was too dangerous. His term was up, and they decided they could work without him. And so they, very nicely, shipped him off to some far off colony.
Now, Caesar would have been justifiably annoyed by this. And for many, they may have given up and settled on a cushy position as lord of the manor.
But that doesn’t get you a name that survives the ages.
Long story short, Julius Caesar decided he was going to be the boss again. And so he took his time in exile, in Gaul, to return to his strengths. He was going to fight, build his reputation, and then use his force to challenge for his former place.
He was a soldier and he knew his playbook was good. And so he used this ‘setback’ to his advantage. He used this as an opportunity to go big and to shock the world.
He decided he would defeat dark tribes of Gaul and win the favor of the citizens of Rome, becoming a glorious conqueror for the glory of Rome.
This was incredibly bold thinking.
3. Fortune Favors the Bold!
No one had conquered the Gauls, the Romans were actually afraid of them. But Caesar decided if he could conquer Gaul, then the citizens would love him. He would raise his reputation and with the army well and truly behind him, after all those victories, he would then have the power to return to Rome in glory.
So he invaded Gaul. He won many battles. He got trapped and he stood strong. Then he used his intelligence to outwit his enemies and conquer the mighty tribes of Gaul.
All very bold moves. He had no permission to do any of this.
He just decided that was what he needed to do and he did it.
But next is where his boldness kicks in.
He decided to march on Rome. His famous crossing of the Rubicon. He defied all law and all tradition, doing what no general had ever done. He crossed the boundary, the little river called the Rubicon, and he marched towards Rome.
And what did his enemies do?
They ran away.
Fortune left the door open for Caesar to walk in and claim a great victory.
4. Don’t Leave the Job Unfinished
But Caesar knew that the job wasn’t finished.
His enemies had not gone away. They had run, but they were not about to give up all together. And Caesar knew Pompey, his great rival, would be after him again.
So, instead of claiming an easy victory and walking into Rome, he chased Pompey down.
This was not like today. This wasn’t a few days speed after his enemy. This was months.
But he never gave up. He was absolutely determined to chase down his enemy and smash him, as fast as he could.
5. Momentum makes all the difference
And after all his chasing, he finally caught up to Pompey.
He was out numbered and it seemed heavily outgunned.
But Caesar knew he couldn’t turn back.
He was moving forward and he was to keep moving, even if that meant defeat.
And just as he had done with the Gauls, at the moment of almost certain defeat, he played smart and defeated his enemy.
And with that Caesar pushed him momentum all the way to Rome, eventually naming himself dictator of Rome for 10 years. An unbelievable title, given the Roman Republic’s absolute hatred of tyrants and kings.
6. Beware the Ides of March
And in the end, Caesar got too powerful. He pushed his way to absolute ruler. In his time as dictator he did some great things. But what he didn’t do was make friends with those in power. The senate. Having done the unthinkable, he must have believed he was able to do anything. And indeed he did some great things, ultimately stamping his name on history.
However, at the very height of his power, this mighty conqueror underestimated those around him, those who he had diminished. He took them as submissive and thought he could do whatever he wanted.
And in the end, they stabbed him to death on the senate floor.
So, take what lesson you like from that.
Maybe you shouldn’t underestimate those around you, or maybe you should beware of being corrupted by power.
Final Lessons from History
So today was a great lesson from history.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a power hunger person looking to charge after anyone’s throne. But I find it interesting to see how these lessons really are true understandings of power.
Look at the great rulers of history and you most likely see these themes played out.
For me, I’m looking to achieve personal success, and so ideas like being excellent, building a reputation for excellence, being decisive, pushing through til the job’s done and riding the momentum while it’s running, all seem like good pieced of advice to guide my mission.
Thanks for reading and I wish you all the best on your own mission for success.
Mission to Success
The mission for success is to take our life to the level of awesome. We are actively learning the lessons that will bring us more success, that will improve the future for our children and will help make the world a better place.
If that’s something you want for your life, feel free to come join the mission for success by clicking here: Mission for Success!
All the best, and remember to keep striving for success.