I’m a philosopher. That gives me access to the wisdom of the ages – as well as an answer that completely perplexes people when they ask what I do for a living. But, on airplanes, and at parties, after the puzzlement subsides, people often ask me, within a few minutes, if the great thinkers of the past had any good advice about life, or life success, that we can use now. The answer is yes. From Plato and Aristotle on, the wisest people have left us powerful advice for success in anything we do. It boils down to seven universal conditions. I've alluded to this or talked about it in this blog before. Let's take a brief overview. Reminders can be helpful.
The 7 Cs of Success
For the most satisfying and sustainable forms of success, we need:
(1) A clear CONCEPTION of what we want, a vivid vision, a goal clearly imagined.
(2) A strong CONFIDENCE that we can attain that goal.
(3) A focused CONCENTRATION on what it takes to reach the goal.
(4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision.
(5) An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we're doing.
(6) A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course.
(7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.
There are certainly other tips associated with success, but every other one is just a version or application of one of these in specific situations. The 7 Cs give us the most universal, logical, and comprehensive framework for success. So, let’s take a quick look at each.
(1) A clear CONCEPTION. In any facet of our lives, we need to think through as clearly as possible what we want to accomplish. True success starts with a clear inner vision. The world as we find it is just raw material for what we can make it. We’re meant to be artists with our energies and our lives. The only way to do that well is to structure our actions around clear goals.
(2) A strong CONFIDENCE. Inner attitude is a key to outer results. Harvard psychologist William James learned long ago that confidence can have powerful effects. In any new enterprise, we need upfront, resilient faith in our prospects. James called that "precursive faith" - faith that runs ahead of the evidence. Sometimes we have to work hard for this attitude. But it’s worth the work, because it raises our probability for success. The best confidence comes from careful preparation and then augments it with a can-do perspective. It’s no guarantee of success. But it is a chief contributor to it.
(3) A focused CONCENTRATION. Success at anything challenging comes from planning your work and then working your plan. A focused concentration generates new perceptual abilities. Concentrating your thought and energy toward a clear goal, you begin to see things that will help with it. This focus involves planning, acting, and adjusting along the way. Even a flawed plan can get you going and lead to a better one. A focused concentration of thought and action is key.
(4) A stubborn CONSISTENCY. 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 my actions stand together with my words? Do the people I work with stand together? This is what true consistency is all about. It’s a matter of unifying your energy in a single direction. It’s also known as harmony. Inconsistency defuses power. Consistency moves us toward our goals.
(5) An emotional COMMITMENT. Passion is the core of extraordinary success. Truly caring. It’s a key to overcoming difficulties, seizing opportunities, and getting other people excited about their work. Too much goal setting in in business is done just with the intellect and not the heart. We need both to guide us and keep us functioning at the peak of our abilities, despite the obstacles we inevitably face.
(6) A good CHARACTER. Character inspires trust. And trust is necessary for people to work together well. But good character does more than provide for strong partnerships. It has an effect on each individual’s own freedom and insight. Bad character corrupts and blinds. Good character makes sustainable success more likely. In the end, character is all about strength.
(7) A CAPACITY TO ENJOY. The more you can enjoy the process of what you’re doing, the better the results tend to be. It’s easier to set creative goals. Confidence will come more naturally. And so on. A capacity to enjoy the process is linked to every other facilitator of success.
These conditions are deeply interconnected. They constitute a unified framework of tools for most fulfilling forms of achievement. It's been my joy to speak and write on them in books like True Success and The Art of Achievement, as well as The Stoic Art of Living and the ebook The 7 Cs of Success. I've been able to ponder them and discover their surprising depths for over 25 years. They can help us make our proper mark in the world. So, why should we ever settle for anything less?