Justin Stead is the Founder of the Aurelius Foundation, a community interest company. His work with the Foundation is dedicated to helping and inspiring young people by using principles derived from classical Greek philosophy and Stoicism. Justin is an experienced international CEO/business leader and private investor across multiple brands and interests globally. He is based in London.
How did you become interested in philosophy?
Grateful to be born with a curious mind. Second, I was first introduced to Stoicism through a wonderful Canadian Mystic Christian who was an incredible “man for all seasons” – academic, athlete, poet. He shared with me some considerations on being “resilient” when I was 14 growing up in west Queensland, Australia during his annual global tour to inspire youth. We become very good friends, and he kept the fire burning by inspiring me with Stoic knowledge and awareness.
What’s the most important idea that you promote through the Aurelius Foundation?
Positive change in the world and that it takes individuals within society coming forward with the right intentions, through higher motives, to promote the greater good. These higher motives must come from within an individual – they must be developed. We cannot rely on the external world or governments to necessarily solve all the problems of society. In this light, people must work at being happy versus seeking pleasure to realign their lives. This in turn will increase greater good contribution by their actions within the wider world they interact with over time.
As individuals, we often want to improve all aspects of our lives and we do many things to improve them. For example, if we want to be fit, we go to the gym and start training with a fitness expert. But, the most important element, in my opinion, to improve life is the development of character; and this is most adequately achieved by daily working on yourself within your own inner citadel gym through the philosophy of Stoicism.
The Aurelius Foundation’s primary objective is to stimulate all people who are so inclined to find us, to consider the development of their own character. This, over time, will not only benefit themselves considerably, but they’ll also see their life increase the contribution to the greater good through their improved Stoic awareness.
What do you think is the best piece of practical advice you could give someone seeking to improve their life?
Become more capital ‘S‘ Stoic sooner in Life. Developing calmness, patience, wisdom earlier in life will save you a lot of wasted time, frustration, emotional pain and unnecessary disappointment throughout the years.
Do you have a favourite philosophy quote?
Yes, and very easy for me. The all-encompassing and most beautiful quote from Marcus Aurelius from the Meditations. To me, this one quote is a great summation of how to live a GOOD life with Stoicism in its essence. It is a quote that I reflect on most days and try to tie my actions to consistently.
Hour by hour, resolve firmly like a Roman and a man, to do what comes to hand with both correct and natural dignity; allowing yourself the freedom from all other thoughts. This you can do if you approach each action as if it was your last; dismissing the wayward thought, the emotional recoil from the commands of reason, the desire to make an impression, the admiration of self and the discontent with your lot. See how little a man needs to master for his days to flow on in quietness and piety. If you can follow these few principles, the Gods will ask nothing more.Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, Book 2 – Section 5
What advice would you give someone who wanted to learn more about the Aurelius Foundation?
Follow us. Interact with us. Get involved with the Aurelius Foundation and all we have going on – we quite innovative! We are incredibly welcoming and engaging for people everywhere – Stoic or not.
Suppose you were able to give a talk or workshop at the original location of Plato’s Academy.
Delighted to participate and support over the short, medium, and long term. Aurelius Foundation is very committed to this project. Plato’s Academy is an incredibly important and worthwhile project that will serve humanity everywhere for the improvement of the individual and the greater good globally.