30 July 2015 - 12:13 pm

Maximus Decimus Meridius’ 5 Steps to Success

Welcome, readers, to my first ever blog post! I hope it isn’t completely awful. I must warn you, though – it is a little strange.

For anyone who has ever watched Gladiator (if you haven’t, please go and watch it right now!), you’re probably wondering why the heck its main character is the subject of my enterprise-related blog? Of course you are! But, before you dismiss me for being completely bonkers, let me explain:

For everyone here at USE, enterprise is about having ideas and doing something about them. It isn’t just smart suits, boardrooms and business; it’s creativity, dedication, innovation and a whole lot more.

The misconception that enterprise is exclusive is something USE is always trying to challenge. That’s where I come in! Our lovely marketing team have tasked me with showing you that enterprise is EVERYWHERE, even – yep you guessed it – my favourite film about Roman gladiators, blood and guts!

So, here goes…

Gladiator Movie

Maximus thinking deeply about enterprise…

Maximus Decimus Meridius – the general who became a slave; the slave who became a gladiator; the gladiator was defied an empire. Pretty successful guy really, considering the circumstances. But how did he bounce back so successfully, I hear you ask? Well, you’d be surprised to hear that Max actually relied on some important enterprising skills that served him well from start to finish of his heroic journey!

Here’s a low down of Maximus’ most important enterprising steps and why they are essential ingredients in any recipe for success, whether you’re living in 100AD or 2015.


Step 1: Set Out your Goals

In any venture you undertake, be it academic, professional or personal, it is crucial that you begin by clearly setting out what it is you want to achieve. Being goal-orientated is an essential enterprising skill for maximising your chances of success, as Maximus demonstrates perfectly.

After losing his wife and son at the hands of corrupt emperor Commodus, Maximus was pretty damn furious. He set his sights on one thing – revenge – and, whilst that might not be the nicest objective in the world, his achievement-orientated mindset and commitment are classic enterprising qualities. And, spoiler alert, they worked! Maximus’ unwavering dedication no matter how many gladiators, swords and tigers he encountered undoubtedly pushed him forwards until he was able to fulfil his goal of humiliating and murdering Commodus. Hooray!

So, while I’m not suggesting we should start murdering our enemies, we can all learn something from Maximus; if you want to be successful, whether you’re setting up a business, running an event for charity or hoping for a 2.1 in your degree, set yourself goals to work towards and fully commit to them.


Step 2: Use your Initiative 

Once you’ve established your objectives, its time to sit back, relax and let everything come to you, right? Well, the answer to that is one big fat NO. If you want to succeed, you’ve got to learn to use your initiative.

If Maximus had waited for Commodus to come to him, he’d have still been waiting in the afterlife. But, he saw an opportunity to go to Rome and grabbed it with both hands; he saw the chance to humiliate Commodus, so made an intuitive decision to disobey his orders. His quick thinking helped him rise from slave to master of the Empire in a spectacular fashion. Go Maximus!

And how does this translate to us, 1900 years later? Well, life in 2015 is highly competitive; people are vying for jobs, university places and other opportunities. How can you out-run all your competitors if you aren’t pro-active, determined and intuitive? You can’t. So follow Maximus’ example, and use your initiative to get ahead of the game.

If you need some help, why not try our Skill Build workshops or Enterprise Online Summer School?


Step 3: Develop those Interpersonal Skills

So, you’ve set yourself goals and you’re using your initiative. You’re doing great! BUT…no man is an island.


Following Maximus’ footsteps at the Colosseum…

Most projects you’ll undertake in life will involve at least some contact with others. For this reason, interpersonal skills – those skills we use to interact and communicate with others – are some of the most important enterprising qualities you can have.

Take Maximus – even way back in Roman Europe, he understood how crucial others were in bringing about the end of Commodus. He networked, negotiated, led, influenced and worked in a team to achieve his aim. He may have been the hero of the story, but he wouldn’t have made it without the help and support of a lot of characters.

In your quest for success, never underestimate the importance of networking and building relationships with others. If you’re a budding entrepreneur, USE’s Entrepreneurs’ Pub gives you the chance to put them into action every Wednesday!


Step 4: Understand your Audience

Leading on from Step 3, in any project you do there is likely to be some kind of audience; it might be the marker of your essay, target consumers for your business or an actual audience watching a play you’ve put on! For you to succeed, it is essential that you know your audience, understand what makes them tick and use this to your advantage.

Maximus mastered this; he entertained, animated and won over the crowds of the gladiatorial arena, marketing himself as ‘Maximus the Merciful’ in direct contrast to an ever-growing unpopular Commodus, whom he terrified with that infamous speech and his fabulous public speaking skills! In doing so, he weakened Commodus to the point where Maximus was in control and able to avenge the death of his family. Clever, eh?

So, what can we learn from Maximus? Understanding your audience is everything; if you can’t appeal to your audience, success in any situation will be much harder to achieve.


Step 5: Believe in Yourself! 

If you’ve completed all these steps, success is closer than ever. But, unfortunately, it would be naïve to expect that things always go to plan. To avoid falling at the final hurdle, you must always believe in yourself and be able to approach problems with a positive, can-do attitude, no matter how scary it may seem!

If Maximus’ story tells us anything, it’s the importance doing just that. He used the many surprises in the arena to his advantage, altered his plans after Commodus discovered the plot against him, and continued to believe he could defeat Commodus in the arena even after being fatally wounded. And as we already know, that self-belief paid off in the end.

So, if you can keep your cool, work hard, believe in yourself and approach problems in a positive, innovative way, congratulations, you are very likely to succeed!


Clearly we can learn a hell of a lot from Maximus Decimus Meridius! As he’s proven, if you want be successful in any aspect of life, its a great idea to develop some enterprising skills. And voila, it really does seem that enterprise is everywhere! 



(Many thanks to jdxyw for the use of their image.)



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  • About the author

    Beth Porter

    Hello! I’m Beth, an International Relations and Politics student about to enter my final year (wahhh!) and one of two interns working with USE this summer. A self-confessed novice in all things enterprising, it was my growing interest in social enterprise and international development that led me to apply for the internship - what better place to learn about enterprise than the Enterprise Zone! So far, I’ve had a great time working with all the lovely people here at USE, and organising two very exciting projects for the coming year! When I’m not at USE you can find me enjoying the summer evenings at my local pub, in the gym or at home eating pizza. I promise I’m more productive in term-time! I hope you enjoy my blog posts!