Sep 22

Rule Over Yourself

“Would you have a great empire? Rule over yourself.” – Publius Syrus

Syrus’ words come partly from personal experience as he transitioned from a Syrian brought to Rome as a slave, to earning his freedom and then ultimately his effort being rewarded by the right to be educated. His words are also attributable to the attitudes and behaviors he witnessed among the most powerful people in the world while serving as a mime in Julius Caesar’s court.

Modernizing Syrus’ sentiments, Under Armour launched a “Rule Yourself” campaign and ended this video (which still gives us chills every time) with similar and powerful statement – “You are the sum of all your training.”

Whether your “empire” is to be the best version of yourself in whatever direction life takes you, you are an underdog moving from a place of little means to a high status like Syrus, you plan to become a world-class athlete like Misty Copeland or Steph Curry, or you are working toward having a literal empire like Caesar – these maxims apply to you.

Ruling Over Yourself is the necessary first step before anything else can work, and it begins with truly focusing on the things that are within our control and leaving the rest to fate.

No matter what we would like to believe, the only aspects of life within our Sphere of Control are our Attitude, our Behavior, and our Effort.
  • Attitude: Do we carry ourselves with grace and openness for how events play out? Are we willing to acknowledge reality, learn from it, and seek to see the positive in it?
  • Behavior: Are we making decisions that are likely to support an amazing life in the present and in the future? Do our actions represent our best self?
  • Effort: Do we maintain the discipline to do what we feel we are supposed to do to be the person we want to be?

It is important to be purposeful in these areas because they cumulate to be “the sum of our training.” Are we training ourselves to be a reflection of our ideal-selves, or are we getting distracted with things that are outside of our Sphere of Control?

Everything else in life either falls into our Sphere of Influence (Ex: We can take all the steps to be the perfect candidate for a new job, but we cannot force a company to hire us) or our Sphere of Concern (Ex: We can stay up at night worrying that the stock market will drop 20%, but nothing we do will directly impact what the global market does).

sphere of control

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of believing that just because we, as humans, have the capacity to postulate over a potential future, that we are better served actually spending our time and energy doing so. We refer to this madness, that we all find ourselves in from time-to-time, as our Illusion of Control. No matter how long Syrus’ lessons have been presented to different generations, we all still feel the need to try to rule over things that are not in our Sphere of Control – which is a losing proposition.

But you really are committed to your Sphere of Control. You want to have a great “empire” and are ready to Rule Over Yourself…. Now what?

Start with getting clear on your priorities.

  • This does not necessarily mean big goals because it can start smaller than that. Discovering what is most important to you serves as the guiding principles that can shape your goals and future behaviors. Your inner compass points to your true north and will never let you down – especially if you are focused on what is within your Sphere of Control!

Next identify the behaviors that will support the priorities outlined previously, and then ACT.

  • Why wait for opportunities to become available to start training for your empire? If there is an experience you want in your life, go ahead and begin positioning yourself for it even before the possibility becomes an opportunity. If it is really an authentic priority, those decisions can turn into habits that will help you become that ideal version of yourself!

Finally, be intentional with the effort you put into the behaviors you choose for yourself.

  • Not only will proper effort increase the likelihood of realizing your goal, it will save a lot of time. This is the measure twice cut once approach to developing skills and beneficial habits. When we focus on what we are doing to the best of our ability and with the awareness to learn as we go, we can’t help but be present and have a positive attitude!

Take a few minutes to consider some things outside of your Sphere of Control that you would benefit from by letting go. What would your life experience be like if you could reallocate those time and energy resources to things that you can control? Your attitude, behavior, and effort are what can bring you joy – knowing that you’ve acted in alignment with your ideal-self adds to your level of fulfilment along the journey to build your empire.

We would like to note that even if you follow these axioms there is obviously no guarantee of your great empire coming to fruition, but you will have little chance if you don’t first seek to Rule Over Yourself.


About the Author

Explorer of life, ideas, possibilities, and limitations. Nothing of me is original, I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known. #UtProsim