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The Barefoot Philosopher
Live the question the Coach's Notes #115
"The best judge of a person is not the answers they give but the questions they ask." - Voltaire
Philosophy is fundamentally about life. But more specifically, it is about your life.
Root around on the Internet a little bit, and you'll find a book definition similar to this: philosophy is the study of knowledge, truth, and the nature of ultimate reality.
But philosophy doesn't stop at these abstract concepts. For a barefoot philosopher like me, the idea is to probe deeper into the very essence of existence, seeking answers to what life is and how to optimise it. Philosophy isn't some distant, intangible discipline for high thinkers. Rather, it's a practical and indispensable tool that can help guide your choices, shape your worldviews, and refine your conduct in society.
Socrates, my original source of inspiration to pursue philosophy as a force for good, was an ardent believer in the practicality of philosophy. Unlike earlier philosophers like Pythagoras, Zeno, and Heraclitus, who primarily contemplated the cosmos and the natural world, Socrates turned the lens of philosophical inquiry towards the self—and more specifically, himself. After being told the Oracle at Delphi had named him the wisest man in Athens, he set out on a quest to find someone wiser because he believed the only thing he knew for certain was that he didn't know anything.
And the best part for me is that his philosophical endeavours weren't just cerebral exercises but were oriented towards self-improvement, making philosophy a matter of personal choice and consequence.
Socrates made self-improvement his life's mission. His was all about making us rethink our lives and our values, to understand ourselves better, and to live our lives in the best possible way. He believed that an examined life was the only life worth living. For him, philosophy was a means of enhancing our understanding of ourselves and of life, which eventually leads to self-improvement and, ultimately, to a fulfilling life.
"Socrates was the first to call philosophy down from the heavens, and establish it in the towns, and introduce her into people's homes."
To borrow a trendy phrase, Socrates democratised philosophy. He took it from the abstract realms of thought and brought it into the practical, everyday world, where it could directly impact and enrich people's lives.
And here's the thing for me: practising philosophy in the spirit of the Socratic tradition is the basis of my coaching philosophy and methodology.
It helps me embrace a perspective on life that asserts the value of critical self-reflection and continuous learning, along with making philosophy an integral part of my life.
I see philosophy as a toolkit for personal growth and a roadmap for life.
I believe philosophical thinking helps improve our understanding of the world, enhances our decision-making capabilities, and enriches our lives beyond measure.
For me, philosophy and coaching are a discipline, a mindset, and a lifestyle. And I want that to shine through the Notes even more than it does now.
A physical thing I share with Socrates is my love of being barefoot. His nickname was the barefoot philosopher. I'm no Socrates, for sure, but I want to steal his nickname: 1) to use as a metaphor for the practise of philosophy whose aim is self-improvement and personal growth, and 2) as a marketing tool for my brand, such as it is. Heck, if I'm crafty enough, maybe I could start a minimalist shoe brand called Barefoot Philosopher!
In fact, let me overindulge here.
I've been reflecting lately on my personal journey and my current place in the world. It feels like it's time for me to fully embrace my inner philosopher, to step into that pair of metaphorical barefoot philosopher's shoes and walk down a path that leads to deeper understanding and enlightenment.
What other course of action is there for a middle-aged man on the cusp of sliding into old age?
It's time to make meaning of the path, as I've walked it thus far. What was it all for? What, as Paulo Coelho writes about in The Alchemist, will be the realisation of my personal legacy? What is the next phase of life? And what lies beyond? This is what I love about philosophy: I can spend time contemplating what old age is going to be like for me. And what's happening after that, if anything? Understanding the answers to those questions and their underlying truths will help me make better decisions about how I want to spend my time going forward.
OK. Let's pause the old-age conversation there and pick it up another time (when I’m older, haha). The barefoot philosopher has some other things he wants to do before all of that!
For now, let's raise a glass to the patron saint of philosophy—the king of questions—Socrates!
Alright, time for some marketing stuff.
First, let me say that I appreciate all of you who read The Coach's Notes.
I'm also eternally grateful to those of you who are paid subscribers. In fact, if you're a paid subscriber and you want to have a coaching session with me, it's on the house. Here's my Calendly link. Pick a day and time that work for you. Once you've confirmed your slot, you'll get a Zoom invite.
Other self-promotion stuff:
Please like, comment, and share. It lets me know you're out there and you care. Also, I'm always open to useful feedback, so if you have any for me, please send it to me in an email.
Other ways to support The Coach's Notes:
Linking up with me on social media gives us a way to stay in touch between the Notes. I've been leaning more into Instagram and its cousin, Threads. There's also the Facebook page, if that's more your cup of tea. I don't know what the heck is going on with Twitter, aka X, but I'm still there. Oh, and I'm on Mastodon. There are plenty of ways for us to stay connected and socialise.
And hey, good old-fashioned email works as well. And if you really want to go old school, we can talk on the phone (+44 country code 07515 512 505).
In case you missed it earlier,
If you're a paid subscriber and you want to have a coaching session with me, it's on the house. Here's my Calendly link. Pick a day and time that work for you. Once you've confirmed your slot, you'll get a Zoom invite.
OK, that’s it for now. Have a fantastic time doing whatever it is you do.
Go Team Wisdom!
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