Over the course of history, various empires have risen and fallen: the British, the Mongols, the Germans, just to name a few. But few have had as lasting an impact as the Romans. In an era when everybody else was trying to dominate the world (or at least stay alive), the Romans were able to build one of the largest empires that the world had seen. At one point, more than a quarter of the world’s population was under Roman control. The Romans had some tough opponents: the Greek city states, the Celtic and Samnite tribes, the Carthaginians, just to name a few. Considering that they were able to defeat these different groups and become such a major power is astounding. I recently came across an article that discussed what made the Romans so special, and what entrepreneurs and business owners can learn from them.
More disciplined than the Celtic tribes, more flexible than the Greek hoplites, the Roman legion was one of the most effective fighting forces. Many of Rome’s enemies tried to copy the Roman military by equipping their soldiers with the same armor and training them to fight in the same way. Yet Roman equipment and training weren’t enough, it was the Romans themselves, more specifically the actions they took, that ensured their city’s lasting influence. The institution of the Roman military was smarter than any single general, since it contained accrued knowledge of many generations of elite soldiers who had refined their tactics and passed them on.
Yet more than anything else, Rome succeeded by creating a culture of dominance and ambition, which drove them everywhere from Scotland to the Middle East. The Romans were hardly the only ambitious warrior culture (around the same time that they were starting out, Macedon under Alexander the Great was conquering most of the known world). However, Rome was the only one of these cultures to elevate ambition to an art form, structuring their entire society around driving people to greater ambition and service. In Rome, the number 1 way to obtain glory and political power was through military service. Every noble Roman household had a special room of honor for the family’s legacy, which included busts of each ancestor and writings detailing their glorious conquests. Roman boys were encouraged to spend time in that room, so that the accomplishments of their ancestors were drilled into their heads.
But how does this relate to your own business? You need to build a culture of success and accomplishment in your business, and serve as a living example of that power. You want to push your staff to turn out the greatest possible results, so that you can create a dominant business that isn’t spending their time trying to ape their competitors.