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The Four Cardinal Entrepreneurial Virtues™
© 2004-2014 Gregg Zegarelli

In c.400 B.C.E., Socrates developed the "Four Cardinal Virtues."  The English word "cardinal" comes from the Latin word cardo, which means "to hinge."  All human virtues hinge on these four core virtues: Prudence, Fortitude, Temperance and Justice; very simply re-stated as Wisdom, Strength, Self-Restraint and Balance.  These Cardinal Virtues were first discussed in The Republic of PlatoLike Jesus who followed, Socrates did not write anything.  Jesus had Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.  Socrates had Plato.  Plato, the student of Socrates, wrote in the form of dialogues (like plays) using his teacher as the main speaker.  So, all references to Socratic teaching imply a reference to Plato, since most or all of what we know of Socrates was through the writings of Plato.

Unlike the theological virtues (such as, Love and Hope), the Four Cardinal Virtues are the essential necessary virtues of Socrates' perfect human being.  In the same manner of Eastern Zen, the Western Socratic Cardinal Virtues are not necessarily tied directly to belief in a deity, but were the foundation for finding harmony in self.  Where religious harmony rests upon a belief system, philosophical harmony rests upon a self-evidenced cerebral reconciliation.

The Republic of Plato is a metaphor, in a manner, because the philosophical question posed to Socrates is to find justice "in man," but Socrates analogizes to something bigger, and easier to see, by finding justice "in the state."  So, finding harmony within the state is the analogy to the harmony within a human.  And, as the Republic of Plato traverses issues of political science, it is analogically traversing issues of humanity science.

The following Four Cardinal Entrepreneurial Virtues were developed by Gregg Zegarelli and are part of his "The Entrepreneurial Spirit™" educational and newsletter series.  These Cardinal Entrepreneurial Virtues are required by every entrepreneur to become a Champion Entrepreneur.


Every entrepreneur must have the required body of knowledge regarding the commercial undertaking.  This is similar to, yet different from, Socrates' Prudence.  The entrepreneur's knowledge credentials must be acquired, by experience or education, in order to implement the strategy.  The credentials underpin the entrepreneur's knowledge-base.  The knowledge-base can be held by the entrepreneur, but knowledge can also be purchased from staff, advisors and consultants.

Without Knowledge, we cannot develop a game plan or implement the game strategy.


Every entrepreneur must have vision.  Vision is seeing where we want to go.  Vision is usually the bigger picture, but it can be a goal at any incremental step.  Vision creates the direction, and keeps people focused.

Without Vision, we just go in circles.  Vision sets the goal and is the measure of our focus.


Courage is moving forward amidst risk.  Like sailing a ship from England to America, almost by definition, the entrepreneurial venture implies a calculated risk.  An act today for a calculated return.  Courage is bold, but, armed with Knowledge, remains prudent.  Even the best captains, with the best maps, cannot control all the variables.  There will be storms, and ships will sink, even with the best captains.  We know this, and we move forward anyway.  There is no timid captain or entrepreneur. 

The future is an unsure ocean.

Without Courage, we do not move forward.


Like Socrates' Fortitude, Tenacity is holding on, and not giving up.  All of the Vision, Knowledge and Courage are of no use without Tenacity. To a captain, it is the determination to continue amidst a storm, and not to turn back.  To hold, and not to give up.  Any adversity is too much for the weak, and every storm too scary.

Without Tenacity, we concede in defeat.  With Tenacity, we stay the course, damning the torpedoes, full speed ahead.

As we navigate life, it is healthy to reflect upon Socrates' Four Cardinal Virtues.  And, as we navigate through entrepreneurial waters, it is similarly healthy to reflect upon The Four Cardinal Entrepreneurial Virtues™ and to ask ourselves whether we have what it takes.  And, if we do not, whether we can acquire and integrate the support talent to supply the necessary balance to reconcile the character traits.  What makes these virtues "cardinal" is that each of them, like Ying and Yang, necessarily require each other in a major/minor formative.  Courage implies a Tenacity; Courage and Tenacity are functions of Knowledge.  Knowledge is impotent without Vision.  Vision is impotent without Courage.  Each Cardinal Virtue "hinges" on the other.

The Champion Entrepreneur must know where he or she wants to go, must have the knowledge of how to get there, must move forward amidst unknowns and risk, and must hold on when confronted by the adversity that is almost assured to come.  Understanding The Four Cardinal Entrepreneurial Virtues helps us to assess our condition to the achieve the success that we desire.  Thank you.

  Gregg Zegarelli http://www.zegarelli.com/staff/grz


Gregg Zegarelli



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