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Stoicism at Work #3: How to be Calm In the Face of Adversity

Updated: May 17, 2019

Stoicism at Work: How to be Calm In the Face of Adversity - article by Dr Nadine Greiner PhD

Last week, you did some time-traveling and incorporated negative visualization into your life. You probably found the experience liberating. You probably were able to develop a slightly healthier perspective on your fears. Perhaps you’re fully on board with stoicism and have booked a ticket to Athens to visit the sprawling stoic monastic communities. Chances are you’re not yet fully convinced of the value of stoicism and want some more practice. You’re in luck.

This article will focus on the Art of Acquiescence. Don’t worry it sounds more complex than it is. Here’s how it works:

Think about a recent negative event

Reflect on the last three to six months of your life. What were some of the most negative things that happened to you? Perhaps you worked painstakingly for months to build a new product. You successfully launched the product on time, it gained traction in the market, and you had high hopes for its continued success. What if, out-of-the-blue, your manager unexpectedly informs you that he has decided to kill the project because of changing priorities. You’re heartbroken.

Stoicism at Work: How to be Calm In the Face of Adversity - article by Dr Nadine Greiner PhD

Look for positives

You’re feeling shame. Now’s the perfect time to embrace your inner Stoic. Rather than languish in the outcome, embrace the Art of Acquiescence. This Stoic concept involves embracing and even loving the negative events that come your way. German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once described it as “amor fati” or a love of fate.

Look for positives in the situation that came your way. Perhaps the nixing of your project caused you to have more time to spend on something with even greater potential? Perhaps it meant you wouldn’t need to travel as much and spend time away from loved ones.


After you’ve spent time thinking about the positive parts of the negative event that happened to you, reflect and summarize. This will make the activity more concrete. Say, “I feel great about what happened. If it happened, then it was because it was meant to happen. I’m glad it happened. I was meant to make the best of it. And I will”. This simple activity will allow you to swiftly move on from your misfortunes and avoid being a mental slave to your past.

Remember Murphy’s Law? Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. Setbacks and obstacles are inevitable. The most effective leaders aren’t derailed by events outside their control. They make contingency plans and cope with the things under their control. Stoicism can be a powerful and effective tool in the workplace. An executive coach can equip you with the resources you need to incorporate relevant Stoic tenants into your daily routine. Meditation, mindfulness, visualization, and other techniques can move waters in terms of helping you embrace the Stoic mindset. And they are much less costly than a trip to Greece.


Nadine Greiner, Ph.D. provides Executive Coaching and Human Resources solutions. Her mission is to make the executive experience exceptionally enjoyable and effective. She believes that the world needs great leaders, and has dedicated her career to helping them.

As an organization psychologist and former corporate CEO, Dr. Nadine understands the pressures and demands executives face. She offers her clients the high expertise that only comes with three decades of consulting success, and a dual Ph.D. in Organization Development and Clinical Psychology. Dr. Nadine is an in-demand speaker, teaches in doctoral programs, and coaches other consultants. She is the author of two books: ‘The Art of Executive Coaching: Secrets to Unlock Leadership Performance’, and of ‘Stress-less Leadership: How to Lead in Business and in Life’.

Contact Information: Feel free to email Dr. Nadine San Francisco Executive Coaching at or by phone at (415) 861-8383.


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