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Plato said, “Philosopher Kings rule the world.” Plato was not talking about a wise sage in a monastery controlling the world through telekinetic powers. Plato was saying philosophy rules the world; it is king. Philosophy is the way you view the world. It’s how you think, feel, and react. Your philosophy leads you and those you lead. Your philosophy has power. It can create freedom or bondage, unity or segregation, purpose or hopelessness, inspiration or discouragement, achievement or underachievement, and victory or defeat. Where you are in life, good or bad, is the result of your philosophy.

Just a few months ago, I was talking to two business owners, Frank and Paul, who work in the same industry. Frank said, “There’s no opportunity out there. People just aren’t buying.” Around the same time, Paul said, “There’s so much opportunity right now, it’s hard to keep up.” Take a wild guess how each one is doing? Frank’s business is doing poorly and Paul is in a hiring frenzy to keep up with the opportunity. The differences in philosophy is what led to the struggle of one and the success of the other.

It is essential to understand your life is the result of your philosophy. Your philosophy determines your actions, and actions create results.  If your philosophy is, “People are out to get the better of me,” people will get the better of you. If your philosophy is, “I’ll find the best in people,” you’ll find the best in people. If your philosophy is, “No matter how hard I try I always lose,” you’ll usually lose. If your philosophy is, “I’ll never quit until I win,” you’ll fight until you win. If your philosophy, “Rich people are lucky,” you probably will not become wealthy. If your philosophy is, “Anyone can be rich, you just must do what rich people did to become wealthy,” you’ll do what rich people do and become rich. To change your life, you must start with your philosophy.

Cultures, like people, are built on philosophy. A culture is formed when a common philosophy creates beliefs, customs, norms, artifacts, and language among a people group. Cultures are everywhere, passing on their philosophies and constantly recruiting new people. Healthy cultures build their organizations around a clear, agreed upon philosophy that is regularly communicated amongst your team. Their philosophy is not only communicated, it is regularly refined and measured. It is the driving force for decision making, strategy, change, operations, and administration. In turn, it creates trust, unity, and innovation.

Unhealthy cultures aren’t clear about their philosophy. Their base for decision making is a moving target and leaves people confused. Unclear philosophy creates confusing strategies, haphazard change, low producing operations, and frustrated administration. It’s common in unhealthy cultures to have departmental feuds, backstabbing, lying, and disengagement. Without a clear, common philosophy a culture will have chaos.

It’s not surprising that 94% of businesses fail in less than 10 years because most businesses don’t have clear philosophy. Ask a few people you know what their organization’s philosophy is. Better yet, ask them if the mission, vision and values of their organization is clearly defined and communicated. Most of them will say no. Most who go out of business will blame the economy, the government, or their employees. It’s ridiculous. Instead they should blame their philosophy.

If you want a successful culture, whether it’s a business, school, sports team, service organization, or family you must have a clear philosophy that is regularly communicated and refined. Guard your philosophy like you’d guard a king, because your philosophy is your king, it rules your world and is the foundation of your culture.

The 5 simple steps you are about to take will help you clarify your philosophy and build your culture. Once you’ve built your culture you will need to perfect it. Cast off any illusion of quick success. Building a culture takes time. You will need to walk these steps like steps at your house, up and down, over and over. After a while these steps will become so ingrained they will become assumptions in your culture. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

As Chauncey Depew said, “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide that you are not going to stay where you are.” Let’s begin our journey into the 5 simple steps of a dynamic organizational culture.