#1726 A Student of Stoicism

Is Called "The Progressor"

In our last couple +1s (here and here), we deliberately repeated our exploration of some wisdom from one of my new favorite books on Stoicism: Breakfast with Seneca by David Fideler.

I read the book in basically one sitting. I felt like I was having breakfast with TWO dear friends: Seneca AND David Fideler.

It’s the kind of book I was sad came to an end. It felt like the nearly three-hour breakfast I recently had with a new friend (Billy Donovan—the head coach of the Bulls) that came to an end because he had to get going to get to the next city for their next game.


Today I want to chat about some more wisdom from this great book.

Let’s get straight to work.

David Fideler tells us: “Progressor is a translation of the ancient Greek term for a student of Stoicism, a prokoptōn, or ‘one who makes progress.’ Since none of the Stoic philosophers claimed to be perfect sages but tried to make progress each and every day through the use of self-reflection and various exercises, all of the Stoic philosophers were progressors.”

He continues by saying: “In the end, to make progress as a human being, you must first realize that you are imperfect (or have reason to improve) and, second, have a desire to improve. It’s no coincidence that one of Seneca’s most frequently used words in his letters is ‘progress,’ or making progress toward wisdom. And as he concluded, ‘most of progress consists in the desire to make progress.’ For without that desire, progress itself is impossible.”


The book begins with a quick look at Seneca’s (fascinating!) life then we take a quick look at fourteen different practical themes—from “Value Your Time: Don’t Postpone Living” and “How to Overcome Worry and Anxiety” to “The Problem with Anger” and “How to Tame Adversity.”

The passage above is from the very first chapter, “The Lost Art of Friendship” in which David walks us through Seneca’s commitment to being a noble part of his community WHILE being a good friend.

The “letters” from which David gleans all the wisdom for this book are LITERALLY letters Seneca wrote to his dear friends. They are the embodiment of the virtues he encourages us to practice.

I pulled this Big Idea out because I just LOVE the fact that, in ancient times, a student of Stoicism was called a prokoptōn—which literally means “progressor” or “one who makes progress.”

Think about that for a moment...


Know this…

All the great sages we admire today—Seneca and Epictetus and Aurelius—DIDN’T consider themselves SAGES. They considered themselves STUDENTS.



THAT’s what made them so great.

They actually PRACTICED their philosophy.

With one goal in mind: To make a little more progress TODAY.

That, as George Leonard would agree, is the mark of the true MASTER.


With that wisdom in mind, here’s to diligently, patiently, and persistently aggregating and compounding our incremental +1 improvements, my dear fellow Heroic prokoptōn.

It’s Day 1.

We’re ALL IN.


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