The Ancient Roots of Coaching

Have you ever consider the roots of coaching and where its principles come from?

It may surprise you to know that many of the core principles and methods of modern coaching have roots in ancient philosophical thought of Hellenistic era. Hellenistic period lasted from 323 B.C.E to 31 B.C.E. The three centuries of Greek history between the death of the Macedonian king Alexander and the rise of Augustus in Rome.

At that time there were many philosophical schools and trends but the main ones with the most followers and students were the Stoics, Epicureans and Cynics. Their influence was significant in all areas and aspects of societies: politics, religion, economy, relations. 

Stoicism, Epicureanism and Cynicism

The philosophical systems of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Cynicism have had a significant impact on the development of the different coaching methods as we know it today.

Stoicism, which was founded in Athens in the 4th century BCE, taught that the key to happiness and fulfillment lies in the practice of self-discipline, reason, and mindfulness. Also, emphasized the importance of accepting things that are outside of our control and focusing on our reactions to events rather than the events themeselves. 

This idea of focusing on what is within our control has become a fundamental principle in coaching, particylary in the realm of personal and professional development.

Epicureanism, was founded in Greece in the 4th century BCE and took a different approach to happiness and well-being. Epicureans believed that the ultimate goal of life was to achieve pleasure and happiness, and they taught that this could be accomplished through the avoidance of pain and the pursuit of simple pleasures. This philosophy highlights the value of pursuing our own pleasure and happiness, rather than external factors such as wealth or status. 

In coaching, this translates to helping individuals identify their goals, and align their actions with those priorities.

 Cynism is a philosophical school of thought that emerged in ancient Greece during the Hellenistic period. Cynics believed in living a simple, self-sufficient, and natural life, free from the constraints of social conventions and expectations. Were known for their blunt and confrontational style, and their willingness to criticize and challenge those in positions of power and authority. They believed in living a life of honesty and integrity.

Rejecting worries about the past and future is also relevant to contemporary coaching practices that emphasize mindfulness and the importance of being present in the moment.


Why are we infuenced from Hellenistic philosophy?  

There are many differences between today's societies and societies in the 4th century BC, but there also some common elements that have persisted over time. 

One of the most fundamental element of society is human nature itself. Although our cultures, technologies, and ways of life have evolved over time, human beings have remained largely the same in terms of our basic needs, desires, and motivations. 

Overall the common bond with that period is the instability and uncertainty. Hellenistic era was marked by significant political, social, and cultural changes throughout the Mediterranean world. The individuals of that time saw the rise and the fall of several empires. These changes led to a sense of instability and uncertainty, which in turn led many philosophers to turn their attention to the study of human nature and the meaning of life.  

Similarly, in modern times, people often turn to philosophical systems and practices such as Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Cynicism in times of personal or social turmoil. Our current era is characterized by many challenges and uncertainties, and these systems can offer different ways of understanding and approaching the world, providing individuals with a sense of purpose, meaning, and direction.

Are you interested in exploring how these philosophies can inform and enrich your career? Please feel free to contact me to schedule a meeting here!