Why You Absolutely Need A Personal Philosophy… and How to Create One

To become a truly great entrepreneur (and person), you need a consistent personal philosophy.

Why?

Because a personal philosophy allows you to be proactive with your life instead of reactive.  It focuses you on the true essentials and helps you to leave out the rest.  It helps you get back on track towards your vision and goals if you ever get side-tracked.  It guides you in your decision-making.  And most importantly, your philosophy will drive your actions, which, in turn, will create your results.

How can a personal philosophy change your life?  Just look at Coach Pete Carroll

How Coach Pete Carroll Can “Win Forever”

While I was a grad student at USC, Pete Carroll was a surprise guest speaker for my Business Plan class (picture below).  It was an amazing talk, and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Coach Carroll talk about his experience as a coach in the NFL and at USC.  But what really stuck with me was his discussion about the importance of developing your own philosophy. 

While Coach Carroll had some tremendous success at USC as a college football coach, he was actually a pretty average NFL coach.  After he got fired by the New England Patriots in 1999, he did some soul-searching.  He read a book written by legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden and found that it took Coach Wooden sixteen years to develop his personal philosophy, but once he did, his teams went on to win ten of the next twelve national championships.

Coach Carroll figured out that he needed to develop his own personal philosophy and create a game plan to execute it.  And he did.

Once he created his “Win Forever” personal philosophy of “doing things better than they’ve ever been done before” and to “always compete”, he went on to win the head coaching job at USC and revitalize one of the most storied programs in college football.  His teams at USC went on to win back-to-back National Championships, and USC was, arguably, the team of the decade in college football.  And he attributed much of his success to his philosophy, which not only guided him but also the entire football program at USC.

My Philosophy

While the topic of developing your own personal philosophy really resonated with me, I procrastinated on creating one for awhile.  This procrastination was a perfect example of why I needed a philosophy in place.  Without a consistent philosophy, I was reactive and lacked true focus at times.  I could be pulled in different directions – directions that weren’t necessarily headed toward my goals and vision.

Well, earlier this year, Coach Carroll came out with a book called “Win Forever”, which not only chronicles his life and experiences in football, but also discusses the importance of developing your personal philosophy.

After I read his book, I knew I had to get to work in developing my personal philosophy.  No more procrastinating.  What good is it to learn about a big idea from a successful person and not do anything about it, right?

One afternoon, I gathered some of the books that have inspired me and my collection of quotes and notes that I had taken through reading and learning.  That afternoon, I organized all of the information into my own philosophy, which can be summarized with this statement:

“Be breathtakingly great in all I do, which will be accomplished through small daily disciplines & improvements and relentlessly learning & taking action.”

In a nutshell, this philosophy is what I’m all about… and whenever I get off track, I can look back at my philosophy to get me back on track.

What You Can Do

Creating your personal philosophy takes time.  While I did create mine in one afternoon, I had already been collecting quotes, ideas, and notes on things that inspired me for about a year.  What I did that afternoon was mainly organizing all of that content into a succinct and clear personal philosophy.

Here’s how you can create your own philosophy:

1. Ask yourself the tough questions – and answer them. Who are you at your core?  What are your values?  What do you stand for as a person?  What is your vision?  What are your goals (for your career and in life)?  What inspires you?  Who do you admire and why?

2. Start collecting quotes or ideas that really resonate with you. Read books, magazines, and blogs.  Attend seminars and learn from the speakers.  Meet with your mentors and find out what their values and philosophies are.  And collect all of the information that resonates with you.  You will need this data to create your philosophy.

3. One you have answered the tough questions and collected your “data”, create your philosophy. Block out a chunk of time and organize your data into your own philosophy that really defines who you are at your core and serves as a guiding light for you to achieve your dreams.

4. Review your personal philosophy as often as possible. Once you’ve created your philosophy, it’s important to remind yourself of it as often as possible.  Your philosophy should guide you in your decision-making and your actions – but it won’t do you any good if you don’t remember what it is.  So remind yourself of your philosophy as often as you can.

Your Thoughts?

What is your personal philosophy?

(Photo Credits: Top Photo – Avinash Kunnath on Flickr.  Bottom Photo – David Belasco on Facebook.)

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