A Philospher’s Guide Article by: Tom Morris
Through a lifetime spent studying the greatest practical thinkers in history â€” the best philosophical diagnosticians of the human condition from Plato and Aristotle to the present day â€” I have discovered something fascinating: All of them promoted, in their works and ideas, the same seven universal conditions of success.
The entire sweep of the human adventure shows that in any new endeavor, in any challenge you might face, you can best position yourself for satisfying and lasting success if you act in accordance with these “7 Cs of Success.”
- A clear CONCEPTION of what you want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
The world as you find it is just raw material for what you can make it. You are meant to be an artist with your energies, and with your life. The only way to do this well is to structure your energies around clear goals. In any challenging situation, you need to think through exactly what you want to see happen as the consequence of your efforts. What do you want to accomplish? What’s the end game? To be able to answer such questions requires selfknowledge, one of the most difficult things in the world. And yet it’s the prerequisite for any rational road to success.
- A strong CONFIDENCE that you can attain that goal.
Inner attitude is often the most important key to outer results. In any new enterprise of importance, you need a robust faith in what you are doing. You need a belief in your own competence to do it and in the worthiness of the endeavor. Sometimes you may have to work hard to generate this sort of attitude of inner confidence. But it always facilitates success.
- A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
All the world’s great religions and philosophies emphasize the importance of what we pay attention to and what we focus on in our lives. Big dreams just lead to huge disappointments when people don’t learn how to focus their energies and plan their path forward. That’s why it’s so often said that success at anything important is always the result of planning your work and then working your plan. The best formula is: Plan and then act. Prepare first, focus on what needs to be done, and then get things going. Don’t wait for success to come to you. Go get it.
- A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing your vision. The word consistency comes from two Greek roots, a verb meaning “to stand” and a particle meaning “together.” Consistency is all about standing together. Do your actions stand together with your words? Do your reactions and emotions stand together with your deepest beliefs and values? Do the members of your family stand together? Do the people you work with stand together? This is what consistency is all about. It’s a matter of collecting your energy and focusing your efforts in a unified direction. Inconsistency diffuses power. Consistency moves you toward your goals in the most efficient ways possible.
- An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what you’re doing. Passion is the core of extraordinary success. It is a key to overcoming difficulties, seizing opportunities, working far beyond the call of duty, and getting other people excited about your projects. Goal setting in the modern world is too often an exercise of the intellect but not also of the heart. The tighter the connection that you can see between your daily activities and your long-term dreams, the more you can remind yourself of how the difficult work of today will lead to your own most cherished vision of the future, the easier it is to maintain the emotional commitment that is the essence of sustainable success.
- A good CHARACTER to guide you and keep you on a proper course.
It’s well-known that good character inspires trust. And trust is the foundation necessary for people to work together well. But a good character also has an effect on your own freedom and insight. A person whose perspective on the world has been deeply skewed by selfishness or mendacity cannot understand life in as clear a way as the person whose sensibilities are well formed by morally sound decisions and actions. Plato understood it, and all wise people do: Goodness is a source of strength.
- A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
It has often been remarked that it’s not the destination but the journey that is of utmost importance in human life. Life is process. And if you can’t enjoy the process of your life as it is, then you need to make a change and find something that you can enjoy. Because only then will you be positioning yourself for the deepest, most satisfying, most enduring forms of success.
Each one of these conditions is vitally important. But the sum total is genuinely amazing. Together, they give you the most powerful framework of inner tools imaginable for achieving positive results in all your personal and professional challenges. And, as a philosopher, I have just one question: Why should you ever settle for anything less?
Tom Morris was an award-winning professor at the University of Notre Dame for 15 year and now heads the Morris Center for Human Values in Wilmington, North Carolina. Learn more about Tom Morris and the Seven Greatest Secrets of All Time.