What are the foundations of sustainable excellence in everything we do?
How can we go beyond surviving into thriving in uncertain times?
I had an amazing opportunity to interview Tom V. Morris, one of the most active public philosophers in the world. He is the bestselling author of If Harry Potter Ran General Electric, The Art of Achievement and Philosophy for Dummies. He is passionately dedicated to bringing the greatest wisdom of the past into the challenges of the present to help you live an extraordinary life. With the New Year fast approaching, you’ll want to read Tom’s empowering framework for the “7 C’s of Success”:
“In any situation, any challenge, whether it’s at work, at home, relationship building or parenting, we need a clear conception of what we want to see happen. We need a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined. This helps you organize your experience and move forward in positive ways.”
“We need a strong confidence that we can attain our goal. You have to be competent first of all, but confidence goes beyond that. There are always situations you’re going to confront that are a little bit different. You have to be able to create your own confidence to say, ‘I can do this!’ We are put in this world because of the hundreds of generations of parents who came before us who thought they didn’t know what they were doing! We exist only because they did it right. We can be confident that we have a genetic endowment to approach new situations with some degree of confidence and create good outcomes.”
“We need a focused concentration on what it takes to reach the goal. We need to learn to break it down into immediate and intermediate goals in support of our ultimate dreams. Little things add up.”
I used to think I needed to be “on course” most of the time to succeed in life, until I learned that airplanes are often off course, arriving consistently at their destinations thanks to fine adjustments the pilots make. It turns out if’s O.K. if we’re off course in different ways. What matters is looking at the feedback we’re getting from our world and making adjustments.
As Tom says, “We need a stubborn consistency in pursuing our vision, but consistency doesn’t mean perfection. In fact, there is no such thing in life as perfect balance. I remember as a kid, seeing the greatest tightrope walker in the world on the Ed Sullivan Show. I thought I was going to see him walking along the tightrope like you or I would walk down the hallway. He got on and the camera did a close up of his feet. They were always shaking, a little bit to the right, a little bit to the left. Years later, I realized that’s what balance is like in life. It’s not a matter of perfect smoothness. It’s a matter of constant correction. Don’t beat yourself up with guilt. Just make a correction. Consistency is about dynamic correction in support of your hopes and beliefs in order to attain your goals.”
“We need an emotional commitment to the importance of what we’re doing, to get us through long nights, challenging struggles and disappointments. We need to renew our commitment on a regular basis by reminding ourselves what it is we’re really doing here. That’s the commitment of the heart, that caring and going the extra mile. No matter how exhaustive the day has been, if you have that fire glowing in your heart, you’re going to make it through, and make it though well.”
“We need good character to guide us and to keep us on a proper course. When Aristotle talked about character, he didn’t just talk about things like truth telling and promise keeping. He talked about things like wittiness and the ability to see humor in a situation. He talked about resilience, about courage and the ability to act on a big scale and on a small scale.”
7. Capacity to Enjoy
“It seems like such a simple thing, but the capacity to enjoy the process along the way can be the hardest concept to live. This is something the great philosophers have talked about for thousands of years: relishing the moment, completely absorbing yourself in whatever it is. You don’t have to be ‘blessed’ out half the time, but if you just enjoy a few moments throughout the day, they are little punctuation marks of refreshment. They will renew your spirit and restore your strength for the challenges you do have to step up to.”
In closing, I encourage those of you who, like me, are making major life transitions to remember these lyrics from “The Field Behind the Plow” by beloved balladeer Stan Rogers: “There’s victory in every quarter mile!”