Successful people are confident in who they are and the actions that they take in life. Our whole lives are full of decisions and actions. Each choice comes from some kind of thought process — good or bad.
Successful people have spent years crafting their decision-making skills and are confident when they decide about something that it’s the right decision, or at the least, the best choice at the time.
To make that decision, they have to have a personal philosophy — one in which they have probably spent years building, nurturing, and developing into their own. It most likely has origins from other people’s philosophies, but it becomes theirs over time, and they can use it confidently.
You need one too. We all need one.
Bill Walsh, Hall of Fame NFL Coach and creator of the West Coast Offense, has a comprehensive definition of philosophy:
“A philosophy is the aggregate of your attitudes toward fundamental matters and is derived from a process of consciously thinking about critical issues and developing rational reasons for holding one particular belief or position rather than another.”
Walsh used his philosophy to turnaround the San Francisco 49ers franchise. The 49ers went from a perennial losing team — a laughing stock really — to the premier NFL organization of the 1980s, by developing and sticking to their philosophy — built by Walsh.
When you think about successful coaches, entrepreneurs, and investors, they all have a philosophy.
So why does everyone need one?
Well, even if you aren’t running a billion-dollar hedge fund, an NFL football team, or your own company — we all need a philosophy for living, and here is why.
It Sets The Fundamentals
Warren Buffett is a value investor. His fundamental strategy in investing derives from this investing model. If he can’t find what he’s looking for here, he won’t get much further. These are his fundamentals.
Winston Churchill believed in optimism — no matter the conditions. Nick Saban has what he calls “The Process.”
Every successful investor, entrepreneur, athlete, and person — have their fundamentals and standards that they live and use to make decisions.
No matter what you’re doing, you have to have some fundamentals. If you don’t, it’s like floundering around in your decision making. You are just moving from one decision to the next, having to decide how to handle one choice to the next. Without fundamentals on how you make decisions, it can become exhausting on the one hand and helter-skelter on the other — leaving the door open for poor decision making towards the intended goal.
A fundamental clarification — or rules — is something that makes diets great. While there is a lot of minutiae out there on which is best, the reality is that the real benefit to a diet is the standard it provides, through guidance. At its core, it limits foods and presents rules. Rules that could and should benefit your health over time, but also limits the room for poor decision making on what you shouldn’t eat.
If this works in diets, imagine using it in other decisions throughout your day?
The most significant part of knowing your fundamentals is to use them to eliminate poor decisions. Now you know what you are willing to do and not do.
How many times in life has not having fundamental standards, got you into trouble — or put you in a weak position at work, with your spouse, or with your health.
Whatever it is in life, no matter the thing, we need fundamentals to help guide our decision making, so that we aren’t leaving it up to chance.
It Becomes The GPS
Now that we have the fundamentals down, we have the basis for our GPS. These fundamentals will guide us towards where we are looking to go, without hesitation and indecision. That’s not to say you won’t go off the path from time to time, but you’ll quickly know when you did or see why you did.
If your fundamental mindset is one of confidence and empowerment, then the next sales call that goes wrong, will not deter you from picking up the phone and making the next call. Why? Because no matter what happens, you have the fundamental mindset that you will move forward with an almost stubborn, persistent attitude. Which if your fundamentals are right, then being stubborn is not a bad thing.
It’s the Hall of Fame coach sticking with his gameplan in the Superbowl — despite the score — because he’s confident that the 1st half had some bad breaks. It’s the investor who’s had a couple of bad investments due to unforeseen market conditions — staying the course and sticking with his philosophy, despite the past losses.
It’s confidence, belief in your fundamentals, and trust in your process. It’s not allowing the emotion of the moment to dictate our decision making and put us in a position that we will later regret.
Whether it’s how to handle a bad quarter in our business, someone cutting us off in traffic, or how to handle a tough situation with our work or loved one — we have to know what guides our decision making when it happens.
Our philosophy should guide our reactions to all three of these situations — not our emotions, or how we feel in the moment. How we make decisions is too important to leave to chance or to allow raw emotions to misguide us, or produce a loss of control.
This truth is as relevant in business as it is in life. Parenting, relationships, and decisions in our careers — all need guidance from our philosophy.
Doubting yourself and your decisions will occur, you are probably not going to eliminate them — no matter how great your fundamentals are in your decision-making process. Sometimes we are wrong.
Warren Buffett has made unsuccessful investments, and Bill Walsh did not win every game he coached.
Great parents make the wrong decision sometimes. Every entrepreneur has had unsuccessful choices in their business — and all artists, writers, and entertainers have had flops.
The point of philosophy isn’t to build a perfect defense against failure and mistakes.
The point of philosophy is like Walsh said, “the aggregate of your attitudes toward fundamental matters…”
It’s not perfection or a computer program that eliminates all mistakes. It’s merely a philosophical way of thinking about life and how we handle the things that will occur during our days. It’s the mindsets to use to guide us during the good times and the bad.
We all need a philosophy for living. We need to use this, work on this, and be willing to stick to it when we are confident in it. We need it for the consequential to the inconsequential questions that come up in life.
It’s not hard to put it together. It’s executing it through the tough times. It’s sticking with it, even when we fail. It’s knowing and setting the standard fundamentals for how to make decisions.
Build your philosophy today so you can guide your decision-making process in the best way possible.
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