It’s too easy to retreat into echo chambers that reinforce our own opinions.

K Street Coaching® believes we must address head-on ideas that unsettle us. The Moral Compass Executive Seminar series facilitates uncomfortable conversations using literary, historical and philosophical texts as our focus.

Moral Compass Executive Seminars ask us to step back, slow down, and measure our lives against age-old ideas in a collegial, challenging setting.

This summer, we will examine life through the lens of Thucydides’s, Plato’s and Plutarch’s writings on the Peloponnesian War:

“Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal supporter; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question incapacity to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting a justifiable means of self-defense.”

— Thucydides describing the aftermath of the Corcyrean Revolution, 427 BC

“It was a great discussion, and quite magical when one thinks of how such a small group of strangers could generate such a range of observations about an ancient text in such a short period of time.”

The Peloponnesian War is now in full swing. As careful forethought and goodwill recede into the background, our next few readings examine the very nature of courage:

Plutarch, The Life of Nicias (26 pages), Friday 7/21, 12-1 pm

Athenian general Nicias is supremely cautious. He wins on the battlefield, but is reluctant to do battle. When belligerent Cleon goads Nicias to lead an impossibly stupid mission at Sphacteria, Nicias resigns his charge. Cleon emerges miraculously victorious from this battle, sealing Nicias’s reputation as a coward. Nicias tries to make peace with Sparta but is outmaneuvered by Alcibiades. When Nicias is drafted to lead the Athenian fleet against Sicily, will he acquit himself?

Thucydides, Corcyrean Revolution (7 pages, from 3.70-3.85), Monday 7/24, 8-9 am

A bloody revolutionary battle at Corcyra in 427 sows seeds of fear and sets a tone of mistrust that spreads like wildfire across Greece. What happens when “reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal supporter?”

Plato, Laches (21 pages), Wednesday 8/2 6:30-8 pm

Athenians Lysimachus and Milesias are concerned with how best to raise their sons. They seek out the opinions of generals Laches and Nicias. When Socrates presses the generals on the meaning of courage, what will they conclude?

All readings in this series are selected for impact and brevity to fit our manic Washington schedules. Seminars take place at 1875 K Street NW.

 Register now for free:


Upcoming seminars in this summer series will include:
Plato, The Apology
Plutarch, The Life of Alcibiades
Thucydides, The Melian Dialogue

For a list of past seminars, please click here.

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