Good businesses have guiding philosophies that eventually make them a successful business in the long run. Take computer giant Apple for example. Apple’s philosophies are;
Empathy – an intimate connection with the customer’s feelings. “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.”
Focus – “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.”
Impute – “People DO judge a book by its cover. We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we represent them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.”
These three simple philosophies set the tone of everything Apple did from the day Mike Markkula (second CEO of Apple Computer), sat down and wrote them down in 1977.
But before you figure our business philosophy, one needs to figure out your life philosophies first because your life philosophies inform your business philosophy.
If they don’t, you will find yourself in conflict with your business.
Our philosophies define who we are.
Everywhere we look; people who have achieved a lot have philosophies and live their lives in accordance with those philosophies.
Gandhi’s philosophies were, “truth, nonviolence, and equality”; J. F.Kennedy’s philosophies were service, social justice and collaboration; Bill Gates’s philosophy is “all lives have equal value”; Elon Musk’s (founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and SolarCity) philosophy revolve around his vision to “change the world and help humanity”.
If we are living a life without any philosophy we can be easily dissuaded by others and soon start wanting what they have. We feel small, we start to envy them, we start following them and start doing whatever they are doing in order to get where they are and very soon we end up living their dream rather than our own.
In a world constantly trying to tell us who we should be, it’s never been more difficult to build the courage to forge our own path. To make matters worse, the self-help industry is saturated with formulaic listicles.
“The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.”Friedrich Nietzsche
I took the challenge to figure out what my life philosophies are.
I thought I was pretty clear about my philosophies but for the life of me I couldn’t put them down on a piece of paper.
I subscribe to far too many philosophies, some developed from lessons learned from life’s mistakes, others adopted from those who inspired me. And they were all over the place. No matter how much I searched the corners of my mind I couldn’t bring them out and put them as a coherent text.
We all form philosophies all through our lives and they kick-in at the time of decision making. But if given pen and paper and asked to write them down, very few of us will be able to it.
That is when I started searching the internet.
Jon Mertz, a thought leader suggests six questions to figure out your personal philosophy:
- What do you get up each and every morning wanting to do?
- What directs your actions and decisions, especially the impulsive ones?
- What gives you a sense of satisfaction at the end of the day?
- What feeling is in the core of your soul that you know to be self-evident? Sounds constitutional, and maybe that is good.
- Why are your beliefs important to you?
- How does your philosophy measure up to higher standards or ideals?
Jon Mertz’s personal philosophies are:
- Live simply
- Lead with Spirit
- Always try to do the right things right
- Take time to re-soul
He suggests tackling the task of discovering life philosophies in three layers – fundamental (spiritual), environment (lifestyle), and mental (behavioral), and suggests a list of questions to determine each category.
I used both their techniques and came up with a list of my personal philosophies.
My list is:
- Make your days count. How I will spend my days is how I will spend my life.
- Leave a legacy, either by the life I live or the art I make. I owe it to the next generation.
- Innovate, shun rigidity and be flexible. In this will lie my joy and my greatness.
As I went through the exercise, I discovered many of my philosophies had changed over time. As I am growing old and going through different stages of life my beliefs are changing. They are bound to change. Perhaps many times in our lives. This is natural, a good evolution of the self, and it should be embraced.
Evan Brown writes, “Establishing a personal philosophy is an endless task. As you get older, become awakened to new ideas, and learn hard lessons from tough experiences, you’re bound to undergo a few course corrections along the way.”
As I write this article, I am still working on discovering and refining my personal philosophies.
In my next post, I will share my creative philosophies.