I have been reading ‘Mans Search For Meaning’ by Victor Frankl. Victor Frankl was a survivor of Auschwitz and also a psychologist.
Here is my favourite passage from the book – I will cover how this is relevant to internet marketing and running your own business afterwards:
The experiences of camp life show that man does have a choice of action. There were enough examples, often of a heroic nature, which proved that apathy could be overcome, irritability suppressed. Man can preserve a vestige of spiritual freedom, of independence of mind, even in such terrible conditions of psychic and physical stress.
We who lived in concentration camps can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number, but they offered sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms – to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
And there were always choices to make. Every day, every hour, offered the opportunity to make a decision, a decision which determined whether you would or would not submit to those powers that threatened to rob you of your very self, your inner freedom; which determined whether or not you would become the plaything of circumstance, renouncing freedom and dignity to become molded into the form of the typical inmate.
Seen from this point of view, the mental reactions of the inmates of a concentration camp must seem more to us than the mere expression of certain physical and sociological conditions. Even though conditions such as lack of sleep, insufficient food and various mental stresses may suggest that the inmates were bound to react in certain ways, in the final analysis it became clear that the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision, and not the result of camp influences alone.
Fundamentally, therefore, any man , even under such circumstances, can decide what shall become of him – mentally and spiritually. He may retain his human dignity even in a concentration camp.
Dostoevski said once, “There is only one thing that I dread: not to be worthy of my sufferings.” These words frequently come to my mind after I became acquainted with those martyrs whose behaviour in camp, whose suffering and death, bore witness to the fact that the last inner freedom cannot be lost. It can be said that they were worthy of their sufferings; the way they bore their suffering was a genuine inner achievement. It is this spiritual freedom which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful.
Business Lessons From Mans Search For Meaning
As you can see I have emphasised certain words above:
- man does have a choice of action – when you start your own business, you greatly increase your choice of action. Many people start their own business because they no longer wish to limit their choice of action to carrying out the wishes of their boss or company. Even in a job we always have a choice of action but if you do not conform, chances are you will not last very long in your job, particularly if you make a mistake whilst not conforming. So the reason for starting a business in the first place is the freedom to make choices.
- to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. This is a powerful lesson for people in business. For example, if you fail after taking an action, can you view it merely as a test that failed and begin again more intelligently or will it completely destroy your motivation to try again? The choice is yours to take and it will define your ability to succeed because all businesses will test your attitude and fortitude.
- there were always choices to make – the same is true in running any business. Will you ‘become ‘the plaything of circumstance’ or will you fight to shape your circumstances?
- the sort of person the prisoner became was the result of an inner decision – I would suggest that the sort of business you create (and the sort of person you become as a result) are the result of an inner decision. This is why having the right mindset for business and life, is critical to your success. Success is usually the result of an inner decision rather than circumstances outside yourself.
- any man, even under such circumstances, can decide what shall become of him – this reconfirms that YOU decide what will become of you so you don’t need to seek anyone else’s permission.
- It is this spiritual freedom which cannot be taken away – that makes life meaningful and purposeful. The freedom to choose one’s own way will give meaning and purpose to your life, particularly if your goal is to improve the lives of other people through your actions. Making money is not a factor in any of this but rather follows as a consequence of making the right choice and adopting the correct attitude. (Of course, you could decide to make money through some criminal act but this may ultimately kill your spirit and potentially limit your freedom!)
Mans Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl has many insightful lessons learnt as a result of extreme human suffering. Whilst we do not have to go through such extreme life and death suffering, it is inspiring to know that we ultimately make the decisions that give purpose and meaning to our life and therein lies our personal responsibility. Sign up to my free ‘Sky Inside‘ offer for more mindset insights.