The 3 Foundational Principles for Success

If we want to have extraordinary success in all aspects of our lives, then it is important that we establish few key foundational principles to guide us and light our paths, especially in the midst of dark times when we encounter difficult situations and uncertain circumstances. In those moments of chaos and confusion, these principles keep us grounded and help us in making the right choices and decisions without losing sight of our goals.

Here are the three foundational principles that are crucial to having everlasting success:

Always Be Prepared

We need to be prepared for anything and everything in our lives. The 6P formula given by Brian Tracy: ‘Proper prior preparation prevents poor performance’, is a game changer. Preparation plays an important role in determining our outcomes.

We need to train ourselves to be able to face any adversity or challenge so that when the situation arises, we are better equipped to handle and overcome it. We should be ready to invest our time, energy and sometimes money to protect our downside. As a great Spartan saying goes: “The one who sweats more in training bleeds less in war.”

Whether it be preparing and planning for your day the prior evening or preparing for an event or a talk, failure in preparation can lead to costly mistakes. Coach John Wooden has summarized this truth perfectly in these words: Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.

One of my shortcomings has always been of being the ‘last moment’ person, but once I realized how my lack of discipline was affecting my well-being and my results, I started working hard to improve this behavior.

Not only preparation helps in achieving the results that we want, but it also reduces a great amount of anxiety and stress. It helps you in becoming calmer and having a clearer mindset when the situation demands.

Make preparation a habit, and I guarantee that your life will go smoothly and the peace of your mind will stay intact.

Always Be Giving

Giving is living. The way to a superior life is the way of service and contribution. We can never aim for an abundant life if we are not givers. Some people are natural givers, while some are not. And if you belong to the latter category, the giving is one of the essential behaviors that you can cultivate. Even if it seems counterintuitive, we need to learn to give away our talents, energy and our money freely to others to attract abundance. A great reference to follow is ‘The Canvas Strategy’ by Ryan Holiday. He beautifully explains how generosity and giving up the short-term gain for long-term success is a great way to go.

When we think about what we are getting out of something instead of how we can serve and contribute, not only do we limit our growth and flow of abundance, but we can also get in the unproductive habit of complaining. Whether you are an intern who has just started, a person who hates his day job and is undergoing a career crisis, a budding entrepreneur, or a leader in your field of work, when we adopt giving as our go-to strategy, we always win.

We should always strive to find more meaningful ways to give. And understand that it doesn’t matter what our position or status is, we always have opportunities around us to add value to other people’s lives. In words of Robin Sharma, we need to lead without a title.

Always Be Kind and Compassionate

We need to be able to detach ourselves from the rude remarks and the negative criticism that comes our way and not hold on to them. Irrespective of what’s going on outside, we should always be kind and compassionate inside. There is no point in letting other people’s emotions and their behaviors affect our inner calm and tranquility.

To paraphrase Epictetus, it’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters. The moment we start letting other people disturb our mental peace, we let them dictate our lives. We need to surrender, let go and embrace the flow of life.

A great way to align back to the calmness inside us is to meditate daily. Life is short and we are wasting our precious time if we let the negativity around us affect our thoughts and emotions. Instead of resisting, all we need to do is to accept the current situation and move on.

We need to work on improving our environment and what kind of people surround us, but we should always be detached by how other people perceive us and even if they show us lack of respect. As Don Miguel Ruiz mentions in his book The Four Agreements, we need to make an agreement with ourselves to not take things personally. Instead, we should be kind and compassionate. We are doing this not for others but for ourselves, our sanity and our mental well-being.

“Whatever happens around you, don’t take it personally… Nothing other people do is because of you. It is because of themselves.”
— Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

When we are kind and compassionate, we have better access to the happiness inside us. We need to start with a blank slate every day and try to do the best that we can and do the best that we can do.

Even if other people are wrong, we can state our opinions in a respectful manner but we should never participate in arguments. We need to control ourselves in those heated moments because the truth is that arguments don’t lead to solutions and are futile in every respect.

So, no matter how other people treat us, we should always treat them with kindness, compassion, and respect. We should respond rather than react, and change our focus when we observe negative emotions and thought patterns beginning to develop.

When in doubt, we need to choose wisely and ask ourselves one simple question:  “What will my bigger self do?

The following words of Marcus Aurelius can be a great reference point for us when we are faced with interpersonal challenges and conflicts:

“When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: the people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own – not of the same blood and birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him. We were born to work together like feet, hands and eyes, like the two rows of teeth, upper and lower. To obstruct each other is unnatural. To feel anger at someone, to turn your back on him: these are unnatural.”


The key to living a great life is self-mastery and when we practice the above-mentioned principles, we become more productive, happy, relaxed and peaceful.

We need to live by the golden words of Lao Tzu: “Mastering others is strength. Mastering oneself makes you fearless.”

These principles are not only important for our personal well-being but also for the well-being of the people around us. The best way to bring a positive change and inspire others is to start changing ourselves. The ripple effect not only makes our lives better but also adds value to other people’s lives. We should always remember this as we go through the journey of our lives.


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