Before the Roman Empire, still in the Roman Republic, the governors of Roman provinces were appointed pro magistrates with imperium –, the right to command in their province. The Roman law specified that only the elected magistrates could hold imperium within Italy. Any pro magistrate who entered Italy at the head of his troops forfeited his imperium, and was therefore no longer legally allowed to command troops. Exercising imperium when forbidden by the law was a capital offense. Furthermore, obeying the commands of a general who did not legally possess imperium was also a capital offense.
Back then, it was necessary to cross the river Rubicon to enter Italy. If a General entered Italy whilst exercising command of an army, both the general and his soldiers became outlaws, and were automatically condemned to death. Generals were thus obliged to disband their armies before entering the country.
In 50 BC, the Pompey-led Senate ordered Caesar to return to Rome and to disband his army. Fearing prosecution, Caesar disobeyed the order, and Pompey accused him of insubordination and treason. Caesar was not happy with the decision, and in 49 BC, on January 10, Julius Caesar led a single legion, Legio XIII, south over the Rubicon river from Cisalpine Gaul to Italy, to make his way to Rome. In doing so, he (deliberately) broke the law on imperium and made armed conflict inevitable. With his troops fearing death as they would cross the mythic river, Caesar stepped into the river and declaimed “Alea Jacta Est” (the die has been cast). This act of war on the Roman Republic by Caesar led to widespread approval amongst the Roman civilians, who regarded him as a hero.
In my view, there are two ways to live life: out of fear, or out of courage.
I believe that only a life lived out of courage is a life worth living. Or else, don’t even bother.
The results that you achieve when you show up and go for what you really want, are very different from the ones when you are scared and stay in your comfort zone. And as we know, growth and achievement only come from stepping out of your comfort zone and having the guts to risk failing or being embarrassed. There’s no secret around this, but even after acknowledging this, most people will still not do it, out of fear.
Fear is always there, and it’s not going anywhere.
We fear a lot of things in our life, but in my opinion, there are two that usually stop us from taking action: the fear of not being good enough, and the fear of what other people may think of us.
Julius Caesar was afraid when he stepped into that river. And his fear was a fear of real death! But his vision for himself and for his army was so big and powerful, that no fear could ever stop him. And that is what made him a leader. Leaders bring certainty to an environment where there isn’t any. In that moment, when everyone was afraid of the battle, Caesar stepped over his fear, and took the decision to take the risk where nobody else would. And History says the rest.
For me, Alea Jacta Est is a mindset of pure courage. It happens when you make a difficult decision and follow it through with massive action. It can be in small things, like booking a trip when you have no money or time, average things like accepting an invite to talk in front of 700 people, or big things like quitting your job to go after your dreams. It means that you’ve made a tough, uncomfortable decision, committed yourself and followed it through. And now there is no turning back. Whatever happens, will happen. We go big, or we go home. Most people stay on the middle. They want something, but are not able to take the necessary risks to go after it. And as they stay comfortable, they lack growth, achievement and fulfilment. Plus they stay frustrated all the time, because deep inside, they know that they are capable of bigger things.
Whatever happens, will happen. We go big, or we go home. Most people stay in the middle.
They want something but are not able to take the necessary risks to go after it. And as they remain comfortable, they lack growth, achievement, and fulfillment. Plus, they feel frustrated all the time, because deep inside, they know that they are capable of bigger things.
To really conquer something extraordinary, it has to be binary. As Tony Robbins puts it, if you want to conquer the island, burn the boats!
And why wouldn’t we? We are here once! Once! We need to understand that. At the end of the day, we’re all going to be dead, so what’s the point of not going for it? What’s the point of a comfortable and predictable life?
I believe that if we are lucky enough to be able to take massive risks that can put us where we envision ourselves, we have a moral duty to go after it.
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