“Tranquility can’t be grasped except by those who have reached an unwavering and firm power of judgment – the rest constantly fall and rise in their decisions, wavering in a state of alternatley rejecting and accepting things. What is the cause of this back and forth? It’s because nothing is clear and they rely on the most uncertain guide – common opinion.” – Seneca, Moral Letters, 95.57b-58a
Knowing where you want to go is not about getting there without failure. It is about maintaining a direction with the full confidence that where you are going, and how you are getting there, is not predicated upon what others may say about your path and destination. But that also doesn’t mean we should refrain from looking to others for advice, or as a baseline for our self-evaluation.
In his Analects, Confucius writes about the roles one should assume within a society. His “Role Ethics” details the means by which we can achieve desired virtues, but to do so requires us to interact with others. The key is grounded in who you surround yourself with. From whom you seek trusted feedback.
“The Master said, “Take doing your utmost (zhong) and making good on your word (xin) as your mainstay. Do not befriend anyone who is not as good as you are. And where you have gone astray, do not hesitate to mend your ways.” Analect 9.25
As has been noted, the Stoic does not seek the path of the monk. Isolation is not where we find ourselves if we are working to achieve the goal. Establishing valuable relationships is equally important as establishing clarity of mind. Both demand firm judgment.
Staying the course does not mean venturing out alone.