Over 50 Lessons from Friedrich Nietzsche on Business and Life

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Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) remains to this day one of the most influential thinkers of all time.

The German was a philosopher, composer, poet and philologist, who wrote 15 books in the seventeen years between 1872 and 1888, including Beyond Good And Evil, Ecce Homo, the Antichrist, On The Genealogy of Morality, and Thus Spoke Zarathustra.

What I find striking about Nietzsche’s work is not only the depth of thought, but the application of his teachings to today’s world, whether that be in the professional or personal domain. His work transcends politics, economics, philosophy, psychology, morality, religion and spirituality, work, love and war.

So many of the concepts that get thrown around on all manner of podcasts and media today had already been contemplated by Nietzsche more than a century before they gained prominence — and this will become obvious in my commentary below.

As such, I’ve extracted over sixty key passages from various Nietzsche writings, and hope that his inspires you to delve further into his works, if you have not already.

My commentary can be found in the italics underneath select excerpts, so as to differentiate from the excerpts, and provide, where possible, an interpretation of my own insofar as it applies to life or business today.

With that, I bring you 61 lessons from Friedrich Nietzsche.

  1. The ‘ubermensch’ (the super man) accepts the totality of life, especially the suffering (the Dionysian man).

2. Good writers prefer to be understood, rather than admired

3. That everyone is allowed to learn to read will in the long run ruin writing and thinking

4. The works of philosophers are a testimony to man only at a very specific period in time

5. There are no eternal facts — there are no absolute truths.

6. Give me any sceptical proposal to which I am permitted to reply “let’s try it!”, but nothing which does not admit of experimentation.

7. Man should have an ability to contradict

8. ‘Good’ is no longer good when your neighbour takes it into his mouth (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure)

9. I doubt whether pain improves us, but I do know that it deepens us.

10. It makes all the difference whether a thinker stands in personal relationship with his problems rather than in impersonal connection to them.

11. Education sanctifies lies

12. Every acquisition, every step forward is the result of courage

13. It is the mask of a higher culture to value unpretentious truths discovered by rigorous methods over errors handed down by metaphysical ages, which blind us and make us happy.

14. Freedom of will is an invention of ruling classes.

15. Conscious thinking is mostly instinctive.

16. Physics is an interpretation of the world, not an explanation of it.

17. Existence (reality) may just be interpretation.

18. Evil acts are motivated by the drive to self-preservation

19. We are less censorious to the animals because we consider them unaccountable

20. Man’s actions are always ‘good’

21. The man of knowledge cannot accept a lack of accountability for good and bad deeds, because it shatters his world view

22. Prohibition without reason is to the man of knowledge, the injunction

23. New and deviate ideas, evaluations and drives are accompanied by a dreadful attendant — madness. A grain of the spice of madness is joined to genius.

“It is through madness that the greatest good things have come to Greece” — Plato

24. All the world judges by what is most immediately and crassly obvious.

25. It is the strongest and most evil spirits that have advanced mankind the most.

26. The poison which destroys a weaker nature strengths the stronger — the latter doesn’t consider it poison.

27. One praises selflessness because he derives advantage from it.

28. When virtue has slept, it will arise more vigorous.

29. A marriage proves itself good by enduring ‘exceptions’.

30. Self-mastery and the suppression of harmful desires and instant gratification through:

  • long periods of non-gratification to the point that the desire fades
  • surrender to the desire in order to generate chaos and disgust, and therefore derive a strong drive to overcome the desire
  • associate the gratification with painful thoughts and eventualities
  • subject self to new stimulus and pleasure, and direct thoughts and physical energies into these other channels

31. There cannot be the greatest amount of pleasure without the greatest amount of pain.

32. Thoughts are the shadows of our sensations.

33. Virtue is the consequence of happiness.

34. Errors are a consequence of the degeneration of instinct.

35. The poorer a man, the more they are determined by law; the stronger, the more impressed they are with nature.

36. The believer in magic wants to impose a law on nature (religion)

37. The individual should set his own ideal, law, joys and rights

38. There is no harmony between furtherance of truth and wellbeing of mankind

39. He who considers deeply knows that all of his acts are wrong

40. There can be no pleasure or pain without belief in facts pertaining to them

41. An error of man is that he never saw himself other than imperfectly.

42. The secret of realising the greatest fruitfulness and enjoyment of existence is to live dangerously — send your ships out into unchartered seas.

43. We invented ‘purpose’. In reality, it is lacking.

44. In denying God, we deny accountability and redeem the world.

45. Men exercise a will to power to overcome weaker parts of their nature.

46. Men disrespect others when, keeping silent, they could have remained respected themselves.

47. Will a self, thou shalt become a self

48. The man who overcomes his passions enters into the most fertile ground — to sow the seeds of good spiritual works in the soil of the subdued passions is then the most immediate task. Overcoming passions is a means to an end.

49. Amor fati / love of fate — a formula for greatness: to want nothing other than it is, not in the future, the past, not in all eternity.

50. The value of a thing sometimes lies not with what one attaints from it, but what one pays for it.

51. Friendships are like ships, each on their own journey to its own destination. They may cross paths and spend considerable time at sea or at the docks in close proximity to each other but they may eventually set sail in opposing directions never to see each other again. Sometimes they may cross paths again years later, and not recognise each other, for the journey onward has changed them.

52. He who completely entrenches himself from boredom also entrenches himself against himself — and will never get to drink the strongest, refreshing draught from his own innermost fountain.

53. The strongest opponent is human vanity

54. To make plans brings good sensations, but with carrying out plans comes the vexation and sobering up.

55. How little pleasures most humans need to make them find life good.

56. One ought to reserve an hour a week for receiving letters, and afterwards take a bath.

57. How can one become a thinker if he doesn’t spend at least a third of the day with people, books and passions?

58. The opinions of the marketplace today indicate nothing of that which is coming, but only of that which has been.

59. We shouldn’t die for our opinions — we are not sure of them enough for that, but perhaps we should for the right to have opinions and to change them.

60. A formula for happiness: Yes, No, a straight line, a goal.

61. What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.

Steve Glaveski is the co-founder of Collective Campus, author of Employee to Entrepreneur and host of the Future Squared podcast. He’s a chronic autodidact, and he’s into everything from 80s metal and high-intensity workouts to attempting to surf and do standup comedy.

Written by

#Founder of @CollCampus and @LemonadeStandCC. @Future_Squared #Podcast host. #Author of #TimeRich and Employee to #Entrepreneur. Visit: steveglaveski.com #MEL

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