You can tell a lot about a person and whether or not they’ll succeed by looking at one thing…

It isn’t talent.

It isn’t circumstances or upbringing (although those do come into play)

It isn’t what they look like or what group they’re a part of.

You can tell a ton about someone’s future prospects by their philosophy on life.

Whether conscious or unconscious, we all have a set of guiding principles we live by. When we were born, we had no beliefs, no code of ethics, no experiences — we were blank slates with an opportunity to learn about the world. As time goes on, our experiences lend to the philosophy we create for ourselves. And this philosophy dictates pretty much everything we do.

If you find a way to develop a philosophy of your own — instead of accepting the one given to you — you’ll put yourself in a position to find the type of success you’re looking for because you’ll have built a philosophy based on your preferences, strengths, and unique insights.

When I look at those who are struggling, those whose lives don’t seem to match their expectations, I look to their philosophy. Of course, people don’t walk around with a detailed list of their core beliefs for me to read, but you can infer a lot about someone’s beliefs by the way they act.

It’s up to you to develop your own philosophy on life. Today I’ll share some core elements of my own philosophy and some elements I believe lead to the life described above where you don’t meet your own expectations.

After reading through these, think to yourself, do you have a clearly articulated philosophy or are you blindly accepting one?

Photo by Yeshi Kangrang on Unsplash

Personal Responsibility

Personal responsibility is a core part of my philosophy because it’s one thing you can be certain of in an uncertain world. Realizing I have no control over the external, I find my center in what I can do about what happens to me.

This is a common belief in much of personal development, but it’s common because it’s extremely useful and powerful. It’s powerful because, in tough moments, taking responsibility tests your will and builds character.

For example, if you’re a leader of a team and a team member clearly screws up, it’s difficult to say you’re the problem because you didn’t commit the faux pas. But could you have given better directions? Were you not paying enough attention? Have you as the leader created a culture of complacency? Are your team members fully aware of the expectations you have for them?

Another example — most people with relationship problems blame their partner, but no sour relationship is one-sided. If you’re in a situation like that and don’t look at your contribution to the problem, you’ll set yourself up to run into the same problems with the next relationship.

I could go on and on, but the point is this — you’re the only variable in life you have complete control over.

On the flip side, those who develop a core belief that other people, situations, and circumstances are primarily to blame for their lot in life… almost always fail. It’s not because they’re wrong either. But if you rely on anything outside of you to change, you’re in for a long wait, because they won’t.

Luck Can be Engineered

Some people do, in fact, get lucky. Many self-help gurus won’t admit that chance plays a large role in success — it definitely does.

I like to look at life like gambling. You have odds of success in different fields and situations. You also have a downside — loss of money, rejection, embarrassment, bruised ego, lost time, etc.

In my life, I focus on areas I feel I have the best odds coupled with a low downside. Let’s say I write a book. I’m fairly confident in my odds of positive revenue. The downside is known. Even if I don’t sell a single book I can’t sell negative books. I’d be comfortable losing that investment and I believe a bruised ego is never a reason not to do something. High upside…low downside.

I also guess I have good odds in realms like public speaking, certain types of online business, writing and marketing, etc because I know what I’m good at (which I’ll touch on shortly).

People who don’t do well, in my opinion, play games they can’t win, have too much downside, and not enough upside.

One example — a mid-level employee doing something they’re not particularly passionate or good at who’s also saddled with a mortgage. Not a ton of upside because income has a cap. A TON of downside if that job is lost and another one can’t be found. It’s also a game with lots of competition because people fight and scrape to be in the middle.

Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash

Focus on Your Strengths

I’m not a very organized person. I lack attention to detail and hate minutiae. I’m not even a naturally motivated and productive person.

But get me behind a keyboard and I’m very productive. I’m curious. I love to learn. l love to express myself with words. I’m a quick and sharp thinker. I provide good insights because of the way I see the world.

I was never extremely motivated until I found writing. Once I found something I was interested in I continued to develop my competence. Finding your natural inclinations and becoming more competent will make you happier.

I think human beings are wired to get good at stuff. I don’t know you, but I’m guessing you’re looking for purpose and meaning.

If you discover your strengths and focus on them as opposed to harping on your weaknesses, you’ll be excited to be alive.

If, on the other hand, you focus on what you lack and what you’re not good at, you’ll miss out on that purpose and meaning. I think one of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to play games they’re not built to win.

If I tried to join a profession where I needed to be extremely organized and detail oriented — I’d be both unhappy and not good at what I’m doing. Even if you work hard at what you’re bad at, there’s a cap to how much you can grow, and people with natural talent in the same field will run circles around you.

When you focus on money, or status, or comfort and security over competence, you’ll go to work every day without looking forward to it. You won’t grow. You’ll cycle through Mondays and Fridays until you get lost in them. I see this happen often and it’s a tragedy.

You don’t need to find an ultimate passion. Just find something you enjoy and spend the rest of your life getting good at it. This is the recipe for success.

What’s Your Philosophy?

I could keep sharing core pieces to my philosophy, but that could end up a book in and of itself. I shared some piece of mine because I want you to know the importance of developing your own. When someone asks you what your philosophy on life is and what you value, you should have a ready-made answer.

If you don’t, it’s time to start working on it.

I help aspiring writers remove the word “aspiring” from their vocabulary, hit publish often, and build the writing careers they dream about. Visit Ayo at
I help aspiring writers remove the word “aspiring” from their vocabulary, hit publish often, and build the writing careers they dream about. Visit Ayo at

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