First, we must seek what it is that we are aiming at; then, we must look about for the road by which we can reach it most quickly, said philosopher Seneca [4 BC-65 AD]. Things have not changed much since. For one simple reason — all of us need help, and guidance, in our journey through life.
To cut a long story short. The most successful of people need reminders and fresh articulations of truth: they also need to constantly rethink, redefine, refocus, and strive for excellence. Easier said than done? Not really.
Hence, the big question. Are there any, or set of, universal conditions that guarantee success?
True Success [Penguin/US] by Tom Morris, a reputed professor of philosophy, cuts through the maze and offers seven practical and basic concepts that are a sine qua non for meeting such challenges. It also provides realistic guidelines for turning beliefs into practice and aspirations into realities.
If one of the common maladies of our times is a distorted understanding of success, Morris sets the ball rolling with both purpose and finesse. "Genuine achievement," he says, "[should] begin with something in the inner life of thought, feeling, imagination, and judgment, and provide for our moving into a form of success in the outer world that will resonate deeply with our innermost needs and values." Fine. But, how can we attain the sort of harmony and balance necessary for true success and happiness? Morris is again pragmatic: "The quest for success should be an exciting and fulfilling adventure. A desire for success in any activity should be redefined and enhanced by a broader perspective on what it takes for success in life."
Morris does not shed new light on old problems; rather, he draws inspiration from the great thinkers of the past, and explores the continued relevance of their message in the troubled times we now live in. Interestingly, Morris arms his philosophical Armageddon with the kind of success that is available to every human being too — living, breathing and thinking — which only means using your talents and following your heart, without in any way equating wealth, fame, power, or high social status with success.
Morris lays great emphasis on the power of imaginative vision, self-talk, inner self-reminders, and envisioning goals. Also, persistence, above all. His practical sound bytes, or 7-Cs, will work, he emphasises, only if they are embodied, used, lived and integrated into our lives at the most fundamental level of habit: clear conception, confidence, focused concentration, stubborn consistency, emotional commitment, good character, and capacity to enjoy the process.
Philosophers have always identified the basic dimensions of human life as: the intellectual dimension, which aims at truth; the aesthetic dimension, which aims at beauty; the moral dimension, which aims at goodness; and, the spiritual dimension, which aims at God. Dimension is where the action is. Philosophical dimensions must be cultivated for true excellence to be attained. However, there's no halfway house in this sojourn. Says Morris, "A spiritual malaise… within any person, inevitably infects relations between, and among persons, preventing them from being the best that they can be."
He is spot on. Because, "The secret of success," as Benjamin Disraeli articulated, "is constancy of purpose." No more, no less. Right? You bet.