The Four Foundations of Greatness At Work

To all my ASCA philosophy friends:

Ah, those four words - Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Unity!

It was great to be with you in Orlando, and to have the chance to talk about some of the deepest guiding ideas any of us should use, at work, and in every facet of our lives. I’ve come to believe that the most stable and solid foundations of sustainable greatness in any activity are exactly those four things: Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity. I look forward to interacting with you more about these important ideas any time, and hopefully to seeing you again in some capacity in the future. I do want to continue to be your philosopher, and your personal link to the wisdom of the ages.


I’d like to invite you to visit my website for further support, as you continue to think about and use the ideas we discussed. For those of you who haven’t yet had a chance to visit, please click on my new website any time. I hope you’re able to come by soon and use the resources I have there for you. Since last June 3, I’ve blogged there daily, and it’s always great to hear comments on the ideas I post! I’d also welcome your suggestions as to what you’d like to see me post there in the future. I hope you can already find lots of ideas you can use!


Let me give you some overall context for my recent talk. I believe there are two sides to long-term success. One side involves goal setting and goal attainment, and the other side focuses on the proper conditions for personal fulfillment and great relationship building:

  • The Teleology of Success = Outer Goal Setting and Goal Attainment

  • The Sociology of Success = Inner Happiness and Relationship Building

Most of the success books of the past 100 years have tended to stress only the former of these enterprises, and have relatively neglected the latter. But unhappy people can’t sustain excellence in their endeavors, no matter how good they are with goal setting. And, as we all know, relationships ultimately rule the world. That’s why I was so excited about being able to come and speak to you on what I call The Four Foundations - Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity - the basic building blocks for sustainable greatness precisely because they’re the most fundamental foundations for personal fulfillment. And they together form the most effective basis for developing wonderful, resilient relationships with the people around us. They’re the necessary basics for reaching greatness together with other people, and they’re absolute requirements for sustaining it.

As you move forward in your work, remember that everyone we work with needs to be respected with these four foundations - we all need Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity in little ways as well as in big ways. Team strength reflects the degree to which these foundations are experienced every day.


Many of you heard me speak some time ago about “True Success,” using a framework of seven universal conditions derived from all the great thinkers - simple but powerful principles that I like to call “The 7 Cs of Success.” It's a topic I've spoken on many hundreds of times to leaders nationwide. You can find the 7 Cs on my website, if you haven’t come across them before, or if you want to learn more. In the briefest possible form, they can be easily stated. In every new challenge we need:

  • C1 - A clear CONCEPTION of what we want to achieve,

  • C2 - A strong CONFIDENCE we can attain that goal,

  • C3 - A focused CONCENTRATION on what it will take,

  • C4 - A stubborn CONSISTENCY in pursuing our vision,

  • C5 - An emotional COMMITMENT to the importance of what we're doing,

  • C6 - A good CHARACTER to guide us and keep us on a proper course,

  • C7 - A CAPACITY TO ENJOY the process along the way.

I first developed these seven conditions in a book called True Success: A New Philosophy of Excellence, and I think I’ve been able to take them to an even greater level of depth and practicality in a new book called The Art of Achievement. The framework of The 7 Cs of Success is a powerful guide to masterful goal setting and goal attainment. There’s great profundity beneath their surface simplicity. But I bet you recognized that right away from your own successful endeavors in the past.

My ongoing philosophical claim is that these widely known conditions for success should never be thought of as standing alone. They should always be fit together with the Four Foundations that we talked about in our recent session, and, in combination, these two frameworks can provide a complete philosophy of sustainable excellence.

The 7 Cs will help you to implement The Four Foundations. And, in turn, the Four Foundations should govern every application of The 7 Cs.

I hope you have many new insights about your life and work as you use these ideas I’ve brought you to think through the opportunities you face, the challenges that stretch you, and the relationships that sustain you day to day, at work and at home.


  • The Intellectual Dimension of human experience needs Truth.

  • The Aesthetic Dimension of human experience needs Beauty.

  • The Moral Dimension of human experience needs Goodness.


  • The Spiritual Dimension of human experience needs Unity.

We have here early on something like a classic acrostic tool: This is the great “I AM” of traditional philosophy - I am all these things: an intellectual, aesthetic, and moral being, living a spiritual existence, in need of Truth, Beauty, Goodness and Unity, and if I forget any of these dimensions, or any of these needs, I will diminish myself. If I neglect or fail to respect these things in my relationships with others, we all will suffer as a result.

If I use Truth, Beauty, and Goodness to create greater and stronger forms of Unity with the people around me, and within my own soul, I can experience a higher and more sustainable form of excellence in everything I do. The same is true for each of us. And, as a philosopher, I have a question: Why should we ever settle for anything less?

Employ the Four Foundations as a diagnostic tool for all your facilities, teams, and processes. Ask: Do they respect Truth, Beauty, Goodness, and Unity? Could more be done? How can you put one or more of these insights into practice right away? Always remember that ideas are important only if they are implemented. Study, reflect, and then act. In doing new things with them, you will learn.

Use the thoughts given to us by the great thinkers of the past to stimulate your own insights today and tomorrow. Claim your philosophical heritage, and use these concepts to enhance every aspect of your life. And then let me know how it goes! I’m sure I'll learn a lot from you about them.


You can find these ideas developed in my book If Aristotle Ran General Motors: TheNew Soul of Business. I hope you can see it soon. If it gives you new tools you can use, email me and let me know!

Your Philosopher for Life,

Tom Morris