Success, Money, Power – from Seneca’s Perspective

In these times of caged life, “thanks” to the coronavirus, some good reading is appropriate. For example, Seneca is full of interesting suggestions.

Having lived in a turbulent age, experiencing the enticements of success and the threats of power, the philosopher has most intensely tried to live in search of consciousness, of that inner voice that is “we”, of a true existence.

It is not easy, because the temptation to give in to conformism becomes stronger when social pressure increases. Between oscillations and uncertainties, Seneca, however, tried: she is not an infallible and perfect guide, the therapist who indicates the way without hesitation, but a dissatisfied patient, looking first of all for himself.

Building a happy, genuine life where one can finally be oneself is possible but not easy. It is easier to let oneself live, following the reassuring flow of prejudices and habits, then blaming fate or others for their failures.

But the problem, Seneca knows and also we know it, is that it doesn’t work. Those responsible for our lives are ourselves, and no one else, it is useless to hide it. And therefore, all that remains is to analyse the problems and face them.

We always complain about the time that runs away, about occupations that divert attention from important things. But what are the important things?

The daily behavior of people suggests that they are success, wealth or power: it is always behind these idols that everyone runs. And whose fault is it then when the risk of having wasted one’s life in vain activities becomes tangible? Really if we could have enjoyed a little more time everything could have been settled? Seneca says: it is not true that we have little time, but we waste a lot of it! He overturns stereotypical common places, putting us in front of reality and ourselves.

Closed in our small worlds, attached to our things, we do not realize this bigger and more beautiful reality, which alone can give meaning to our existence.

The risk of failure, of course, is always present. But could it be otherwise? “There is not, it seems to me, one individual more unfortunate than who has never had any adversity,” says Seneca. It is an almost paradoxical statement, which, however, perhaps contains a grain of truth. Because in the end, it is like this: “in the great theater of life the show is all the more appreciated the nobler is who gives it”. Once again everything falls on us. We have to choose which side to be on; in short, what to do with our lives, whether to complain or fight.

Let’s take back what we are: it is not easy to remain ourselves when everything around us changes dramatically, eliminating reference points or handhold. One almost thinks that something authentically ours does not exist, that we can legitimately call “I” because we are the product of social interactions, the result of the random combination of fortuitous events that happen to us. Yet, we may not listen to it, but within each of us there is a consciousness: it is us.

Reading it well, Seneca is more coherent than it seems.

Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo Delli Paoli
Aldo is a lawyer and teacher of law & Economic Sciences, "lent" to the finance world. He has worked, in fact, 35 years long for a multinational company of financial service in the auto sector, where he held various roles, until that of CEO. In the corporate field, he has acquired skills and held positions as Credit Manager, Human Resource Manager, Team leader for projects of Acquisition & Merger, branch opening, company restructuring, outplacement, legal compliance, analysis and innovation of organizational processes, business partnerships, relations with Trade Unions and Financial Control Institutions. After leaving the company, he continued as an external member of the Board of Directors e, at the same time, he has gone back practicing law and was a management consultant for various companies. He has been also a columnist for newspapers specializing in labor law, automotive services and work organization. His interests include human behavior in the organizational environment, to the neuroscience, the impact of new technologies, the fate of the planet and people facing poverty or war scenarios. He loves traveling, reading, is passionate about many sports, follows the NBA and practices tennis.

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  1. Thank you for this thoughtful and inspiring article. I just learned about Seneca and his wisdom in the last five years. I love his quote about courage just too live, but I especially like the one you just shared. He is correct about adversity. Indeed, it offers a choice when it appears in your life. Either wallow in it and either or use your battle wounds as a reminder to keep going.💖

  2. Aldo, Success, Money, and Power I am sad to say powerful driving forces for many people. I freely admit that I am looking to make more money and enjoy the rewards that come from building a successful business which is something I am putting a great deal of time and effort into. Power given to the wrong people can lead to catastrophic consequences. If you obtained wealth and success by wronging others rest assured you will be punished for after you die. All of your material wealth will not come with you when you die. We have choices in life but we must make certain we make the right ones. When it comes to time we should use it wisely as any moment may be your last moment of life. G-d is our judge. Aldo, I have often commented on the depth of your intelligence not to mention how you understand things that others don’t. You are an amazing man. Your article was superbly written as evidenced by your written thoughts. Be well my friend and please stay safe!

    • What a pleasure to read such a blunt and wise comment.
      I thank you because I too have known the effort it takes to achieve success, power, economic stability and, therefore, I don’t find it inconvenient at all.
      The events of life, however, have also taught me that if you seek those advantages only for yourself, they will give you a little limited satisfaction over time. After all, as you wisely say, when we are no longer there we will not take anything with us. Therefore, I believe that effort must have a broader, more lasting purpose, also serve to some other.
      Thank’s my friend. I am concerning myself, I am relegated to the house according to the instructions, hoping that everyone has the necessary civic sense and responsibility.
      See you next time!

  3. Aldo – First, I hope you are well considering the news coming from Italy. Second, love the reminder that in this very crazy world, knowing who you are and staying true to who you are is so important. Thanks for sharing this, my friend.

    • What is happening in Italy is terrible.
      Institutions in all sectors are doing miracles to deal with the situation, but what is needed above all is the sense of responsibility of the people.
      We live closed in the house, separated even from our closest relatives, and those who had a job also suffer from this economic aspect which is not indifferent.
      Among other things, we also witness acts of ostracism towards us rather than solidarity. When then certainly this problem is spreading everywhere.
      I am also particularly worried about my daughter who is a nurse.
      We can’t help but trust science, respect the rules, wait for things to improve.
      But then another battle will begin: the economic one.
      A warm greeting.

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