Exclusive Excerpt from the New Audible Original – “Compete to Create: An Approach to Living and Leading Authentically” by Dr. Michael Gervais and Pete Carroll
From Pete Carroll:
Writing down your personal philosophy is a process that takes a lot of work, but everyone is capable of doing it. Living your philosophy is how we share who we are, what we stand for, and is the lens that guides our thoughts, words, and actions.
Over the course of my career, I found myself getting fired a number of times. And the last time I was fired became the most significant one. Through the discomfort of being fired, which I thought was one of the worst times of my life, came some of the most important lessons that I’ve learned. Personally, I hate to learn the hard way, but in this case, it was one the most beneficial transitions that I was able to make, and it set me on course to where I am today. Sometimes, life looks so hard, and it feels so stressful, but this is an example of where perseverance can lead to us to our best work.
During that experience of getting fired, I went through the rigorous process of self-discovery. I realized that if I was going to get my act together, I better figure out what I’m all about.
Of all the words that could define who I am, the one word that I kept coming back to was competition. Competing had been at the core of my life as far back as I could remember and a precise way to define myself would be, “I’m a competitor.” It became clear that my personal philosophy could be simply stated as: “Always Compete!” I see life as a competition of “striving to find your best” in all aspects. Some thoughts and phrases that have helped expand on this philosophy and guide my thoughts and actions are “you’re either competing or you’re not” and “we’re in a relentless pursuit of finding a competitive edge in everything we’re doing!” And, “we don’t want to be the best ones doing something, we want to be the only ones doing it!”
Once I was able to articulate and write down my personal philosophy, it gave me a clear understanding of who I am at my best and these thoughts have guided my teams and programs ever since. It was obvious that competition would be the “central theme” of my team and program because it’s so true to me, and I could help the team stay connected to it easily. From that point forward, we were competing in all aspects on a daily basis. We were striving to find our best, individually and as a team.
The power of knowing your personal philosophy comes from knowing yourself. When you are clear on what’s important to you and what you stand for, you are equipped to handle life. This “knowing” gives you strength and conviction to deal with life’s challenges. And your philosophy allows you to believe and trust in yourself, and so you can help those around you.
Having your own personal philosophy is critical when you’re facing challenging times. It’s important when you’re on course, and things are going really well, but when you’re challenged, and things don’t go right, your philosophy is the mechanism that keeps you on track and connected with the person that you know yourself to be.
My philosophy has helped me stay true to myself during major challenges and setbacks.
Let’s go back to the second time we played in the Super Bowl. We get down to the very last sequence of the game, and right on the precipice of victory, a second consecutive Super Bowl victory is snatched away from us in the flash of a moment. The defeat is there, right in front of us. Just when we’re ready to win it all.
In the few seconds that followed losing, I knew that I was going to have to step up to supporting all of the people who were going to be crushed by this outcome.
It meant supporting all of the people who supported us and giving them guidelines for how we were going to deal with the loss and move forward. We were going to compete to handle this well. That meant me taking personal accountability for the loss and shouldering the blame.
My philosophy guided my actions, as well as the actions of the team. We would compete to come back from this. It showed up in the language, with the way we stood up, dealt with it, and also with how we would use our approach moving forward.
I don’t think that there’s anything more valuable than knowing who you are and what you stand for when you are facing challenges. It gives you the best opportunity to be resilient, to respond, to jump back into getting on course as soon as possible, and to return to being effective, as soon as possible.
We all have a way that is guided by our beliefs. We are all living by a philosophy, but you might not be able to articulate it. Doing the hard work – of writing down what’s important to you and the words that make up who you are at your best – accelerates the self-discovery process. I’ve been honored to share our process with both individuals and corporate teams, and now I have the honor of sharing our process with millions of Audible listeners around the world with Compete to Create, our Audible Original with Dr. Michael Gervais. This process isn’t easy and I challenge you to put in the effort and find the time – go for it!