In 2015, my agent called me with an idea. I had published The Obstacle is the Way and was working on Ego is the Enemy, two books which were rooted in Stoic philosophy–but tried not to be too overt about it.
Steve, my agent, suggested I do the exact opposite. You should write a daily devotional about Stoicism, he told me, one page per day. It seemed crazy to me. Most people weren’t interested in philosophy (and most publishers weren’t either). Besides, I don’t speak Greek or Latin, so how would I do the translations? “I’ll do them,” Steve told me, “and I promise it will be your bestselling book.”
This was preposterous to me on many levels. For one, Steve knew Greek and Latin? But it turns out he did…and he was right!
The Daily Stoic released seven years ago and has gone on to sell over 2M English language copies, and it’s been translated into more than 30 languages. For the 7th anniversary of The Daily Stoic, I thought I would share some lessons from that book–or rather, lessons that came from writing and publishing it, because the whole process taught me as much about business and life as it did about philosophy.
1. Take the assignment. As I mentioned, the idea for The Daily Stoic wasn’t mine. In fact, I wasn’t totally convinced the idea would have much appeal, but I was at a point in my career where I was taking assignments. It seemed like a challenge. I felt like I would get better for trying. Plus Steve had far more experience in publishing than I did, so I trusted him. You just never know. Certainly, I have been surprised time and time again where little opportunities, little suggestions have changed the trajectory of my career. But only because I showed up and did the work.
2. There is something powerful about the “daily read” format. Tolstoy believed his most essential work was not his novels but his daily read, A Calendar of Wisdom (it’s since become an absolute favorite of mine). As Tolstoy wrote in his diary, the continual study of one text, reading one page at the start of each day, is critical to personal growth. Steve had published The Daily Drucker (which is also great). I didn’t understand until later how perfect this format is for Stoicism. It’s not something you read once and ‘get.’ It’s a process. A ritual. I think everyone’s day…