Cyrus the Great

Cyrus the Great: The Arts of War and Leadership

Your upbringing has made you tough and taught you that success can only be won by hard work. You know what true warriors are. True warriors don’t falter when they’re called upon to perform feats of great endurance. True warriors don’t fall sleep when they ought to remain alert. You are the suitors of Honor herself and, under my leadership, you’ll meet all the challenges that lie ahead

True Leadership is Making People All They Ought to Be

True, my son,” said the king, “and do you remember the other things we talked about? We discussed how wonderful it would be if a man could train himself to be both ethical and brave, and to earn all he needed for his household and himself. That kind of man, we agreed, would be appreciated by the whole world. But if a man went further still, if he had wisdom and the skill to be the guide and governor of other men, supplying all their needs and making them all they ought to be, that would be the greatest thing of all.

Early on, you can expect no one to believe in your destiny as much as yourself

Allow me to pause and emphasize this general rule: success always calls for greater generosity — though most people, lost in the darkness of their own egos, treat it as an occasion for greater greed

I’m beginning to understand, Prince Cyrus, how superior you and your men are. You may not possess as many treasures as other warriors, but you’re worth far more to the gods. Most of us are always trying to increase our wealth, but you and your officers seem far more concerned with perfecting your souls

Know Thyself

When I was a young man,” he continued, “I longed to father many sons, so I sent my messengers to Delphi and asked the god if my prayers would be answered.  Apollo assured me that I would have sons.  What he didn’t tell me was that one would be born dumb and the other would die young.”

I’m very sorry to hear these things,” I told Corseus.

He didn’t acknowledge my sympathy.  Starting off into space, he said, “In the midst of my sorrows, I sent god another question, asking him for the only blessing that could still save me.  I begged him to tell me how to overcome my pain and live in happiness for the rest of my days.”

And what did the god say to that?”

Now Croseus looked me straight in the eye. “Apollo gave me simple advice, Prince Cyrus.  He said, ‘Know yourself, O King, and then happiness will be yours.’  When I received that message, I finally felt comforted.  The god, I told myself, was asking me to do very little and guaranteeing me happiness in return.  Everyone, whether slave or sovereign, can know himself.  I made peace with my son’s death, and when the old Assyrian king persuaded me to march against you and Syazarees, I came to no harm.

I made my people understand the crucial difference between modestly and self-control. The modest person, I told them, will do nothing blameworthy in the light of day, but a true paragon of self-control — which we should all strive to be — avoids unworthy actions even in the deepest secrecy of his private life