The Ship of Theseus

Amar Pandit , CFA , CFP

Amar Pandit

A respected entrepreneur with 25+ years of Experience, Amar Pandit is the Founder of several companies that are making a Happy difference in the lives of people. He is currently the Founder of Happyness Factory, a world-class online investment & goal-based financial planning platform through which he aims to help every Indian family save and invest wisely. He is very passionate about spreading financial literacy and is the author of 4 bestselling books (+ 2 more to release in 2020), 8 Sketch Books, Board Game and 700 + columns.

Do you remember the movie “The Ship of Theseus”? 

The movie had won the National Film Award for the Best Feature Film in 2013. However, this post is not about the film but about the powerful concept of the Ship of Theseus. Given this is the last week of 2021, it would be a great time to do some reflection about your ship

First things first – Who was Theseus?

According to Wikipedia, “Theseus was the mythical king and founder hero of Athens. The myths surrounding Theseus- his journeys, exploits and friends – have provided material for fiction throughout the ages.”

Now that you know who Theseus is, let’s read the next few paragraphs from Ryan Holiday’s Book “The Daily Stoic”.

In Plutarch’s Life of Theseus, he describes how the ship of Theseus, was preserved by the people of Athens in battle ready conditions for many centuries. Each time a board decayed; it would be replaced until eventually every stick of wood in it had been replaced. Plutarch asks: “Is it still Ship of Theseus or is it a new one?

What do you think? Is it still the ship of Theseus or is it a new one?

In Japan, a famous Shinto shrine is rebuilt every twenty-three years. It’s gone through more than 60 of those cycles. 

Is it one shrine 1400 years old? Or 60 consecutive shrines?

Our understanding of what something is, is just a snapshot – a short lived opinion. The universe is in a constant state of change. Our nails grow and are cut and keep growing. New skin replaces dead skin. Old memories are replaced by new memories.

Are we still the same people? Are the people around us the same? Nothing is exempt from this fluidity, not even the things we hold most sacred.

Reflect on the questions given below and write the answers. I assure you that this will be an eye opener exercise for you.

Are you the same person from 20 years ago?

Forget 20 years, are you even the same person from 2 years ago?

Now replace person with professional and ask yourself the same 2 questions.

Are you the same professional from 20 years ago?

Are you even the same professional from 2 years ago?

What has changed in you as a person or as a professional? 

Now, what about your business?

Is it the same business as it was 20, 10 and 2 years ago?

What parts of the business have undergone a change?

Have you replaced any parts of the business or are they pretty much the same?

The Ship of Theseus needed parts that were damaged to be replaced for it to be battle ready. 

What needs to change in you for you to be battle ready?

What needs to change in your business for it to be battle ready, and to flourish in 2022 and beyond?

But the most important question is, “Are you Ready?”