I believe history can teach us a lot. Throughout history, there are those who made good decisions and those who made bad ones. The former reaped the rewards and the latter suffered the consequences. In any case, there are useful lessons that we can learn from their experiences.
This time I’d like to share with you a lesson I learned from the story of Alexander Severus, a Roman emperor from 222 to 235. While reading Roman history on Wikipedia a while ago, I got interested in this particular emperor because his assassination started the Crisis of the Third Century.
As it turned out, he was assassinated by his own troops. But how could that happen? Why did the troops kill their own emperor? Well, the short answer is that the emperor chose the easy way and his troops didn’t like it.
Germanic tribes invaded the Roman Empire during the time Severus was emperor. The emperor marched out his troops to meet the invaders. The troops were ready to fight and defend their land. But what happened? When they were near the enemy, the emperor chose to bribe the enemy instead. He tried to buy them off using the empire’s wealth. Instead of facing the challenge, the emperor chose the easy way.
The troops didn’t like it. In fact, they were angered by it. They looked down on him and eventually decided to kill him.
It’s tragic, but it also contains a profound lesson: don’t take the easy way. Don’t take shortcuts when you face a problem. It may look easy and attractive, but it’s not without its danger. What you should do instead is face the challenge and do the right thing. It might be painful and take a long time, but the reward makes it worth it. Here are two kinds of reward that you will get if you do the right thing:
1. Lasting success
By taking the easy way, you might seem to achieve your goal (peace, in the case of the emperor), but it won’t last for long. Since taking the easy way means you never solve the root of the problem, the problem could resurface at any time. On the other hand, if you take the more difficult route and solve the root of the problem, you will get success that lasts.
2. The respect of others
When those around you see the way you handle your situation, they will respect you. They will look at you as someone to learn from. You might even become an inspiration to them.
Doing the right thing is easier said than done, but it’s something we can all learn to do. Remember the story of the emperor: don’t take the easy way. March into your battles courageously and solve the root of each problem.
Photo by Tony Fischer