Most people at some point or another, you and me included, have fallen prey to the superficial statement that “if only I (insert excuse here)… then I could/would… (insert dream here)” The truth is you already can, you just cannot do it yet. And you only cannot do it yet, it is because you haven’t taken the time to truly master it. So how do you master something? Learn about it and then dedicate time and effort to making it work, through strict adherence to five important “ps”: purpose, priorities, practice, persistence and productivity.
Sadly, there are no short cuts (sorry) to mastery. Books, however, should be packed into every Stoic’s rucksack because it directs us and helps keep us on the path of progress towards virtue (wisdom). Wait a minute? A book? Yes, but not just any book, a QUAKE book.
How does a QUAKE book figure in all of this?
A QUAKE book isn’t just any old book. In fact, as with wise advice, it is something a Stoic should never tire from. Further, to even register as a QUAKE book it has to shake the floor your standing on to such a degree that even the hardiest of Spartans would struggle to maintain their footing. A QUAKE book (to be referred to as such) has to immeasurably move you to the point that you cannot possibly continue in the same way, doing the same thing.
A book of that pedigree changes more than a person’s thoughts and actions. It will save them from running a circular rut made up of a lifetime of mistakes and errors. In short, it challenges the very credibility of the phrase “I don’t have time to read”.
A QUAKE book is more than a book, it is a time machine
Before you switch internet tabs or google something else, think about it. What an individual must typically learn and experience in a lifetime of say 60 years, or more, can be written down in a year or two and read in a week. What’s more, reading is a simple task that can be undertaken everywhere and anywhere on a whole host of devices, or even with an “old-fashioned” paperback. The majority of the reading effort, like anything else worth achieving, is linked to the making of a habit.
So how can it be that I would be a wealthy man indeed if I charged a dollar (or a pound, or a euro) every time I heard the phrase “But I don’t have time to read?” The answer is simple- most people don’t understand the effect QUAKE book reading may have on their bank balance, family life, emotional wellbeing or world understanding.
A Stoic Pursuit of the Five Ps
Arguably, a Stoic progress towards mastery occurs via five important ps: purpose, priorities, practice, persistence and productivity. Yet, most of us, including me if I am not careful, will continue to state a lack of time as our main barrier, when really anything we tend to want in life really comes to down to priorities and persistence. So how does one prioritise? By having a clear purpose. Only with purpose can a person prioritise and practice any given activity or development. Only with persistence will they start to experience real gains.
Purpose is obtained by gaining knowledge about the world, working out where your interests and strengths lie and how they can be best applied to a problem you want to solve. Trust me when I say, this will become clearer as you read more QUAKE books. Using expertise earned through such reading and diligent practice, will herald solutions and furthers progress by allowing you to scratch your own itch.
Priorities help us achieve our purpose because they are a set of actions we must become accustomed to, whilst forsaking other things that we could do equally well, but which don’t align us with our end goals. Knowing what our priorities should be and how to dedicate time to them, through consistent practice, are significant steps in a Stoic’s pursuit towards wisdom. This is why reading a QUAKE book is so important. It is an exercise of discipline over distractions, which are things that aren’t and shouldn’t be prioritised, on a regular basis, because they fritter away our attention.
Persistence is the discipline of practicing even when you don’t feel like it or when you don’t see change. Over time it enables you to process your thoughts and actions better, given that neurons that fire together, wire together. It is something that needs to be learnt and established, and in my experience, it is an attitude and action plan that is improved by building on the work of the good role models (perhaps even the odd sage) who have led the way before us.
On this website I will be including some of my favourite QUAKE Books, because if we want to change the way we see the world, first we need to change the way we think.