A personal creed is more than an affirmation. Affirmations aim to give you confidence in yourself. Personal creeds are more spiritual. ‘Creed’ comes from the Latin word ‘credo’ which means “I believe”. So a personal creed is a statement of belief about who you are.
A personal creed is a blueprint for how you live your life. No respectable architect would start building without a blue-print. Yet many of us try to build our lives without a personal blueprint.
5 examples of a personal creed
Here are as models for developing your own personal creed. Note that yours does not need to be as long or as poetic. What is important is the emphasis on “being” as opposed to “doing” or “having”.
To live as gently as I can;
To be, no matter where, a man:
To take what comes of good or ill
And cling to faith and honor still;
To do my best, and let that stand
The record of my brain and hand;
And then, should failure come to me,
Still work and hope for victory.
To have no secret place therein
I stoop unseen to shame or sin;
To be the same when I’m alone
As when my every deed is known;
To live undaunted, unafraid
Of any step that I have made;
To be without pretense or sham
Exactly what men think I am.
To leave some simple mark behind
To keep my having lived in mind;
If enmity to aught I show,
To be an honest, generous foe,
To play my little part, nor whine
That greater honors are not mine.
This, I believe, is all I need
For my philosophy and creed.
Isn’t that wonderful? To have something that you can tell the world is your “philosophy and creed” is, I think, the essence of personhood.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired of waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it all on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings – nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run –
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son!
Gosh, if I could write like that I would die happy. No wonder “If” is probably one of the best-loved poems of all time.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the caption of my soul.
‘Invictus’ is Latin for ‘unconquered’ and this poem uses powerful language that is a call to both contemplation and action.
He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth’s beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.
What a woman! Her ‘perfect poem’ is certainly an inspiration and benediction to generations after.
OUR FAMILY CREED
The Things That Make Life Most Worth Living
I believe in the supreme worth of the individual and in his right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I believe that every right implies a responsibility; every opportunity, an obligation; every possession, a duty.
I believe that the law was made for man and not man for the law; that government is the servant of the people and not their master.
I believe in the dignity of labor, whether with head or hand; that the world owes no man a living but that it owes every man an opportunity to make a living.
I believe that thrift is essential to well ordered living and that economy is a prime requisite of a sound financial structure, whether in government, business or personal affairs.
I believe that truth and justice are fundamental to an enduring social order.
I believe in the sacredness of a promise, that a man’s word should be as good as his bond, that character – not wealth or power or position – is of supreme worth.
I believe that the rendering of useful service is the common duty of mankind and that only in the purifying fire of sacrifice is the dross of selfishness consumed and the greatness of the human soul set free.
I believe in an all-wise and all-loving God, named by whatever name, and that the individual’s highest fulfillment, greatest happiness and widest usefulness are to be found in living in harmony with His will.
I believe that love is the greatest thing in the world; that it alone can overcome hate; that right can and will triumph over might.
These are the principles, however formulated, for which alll good men and women throughout the world, irrespective of race or creed, education, social position or occupation, are standing, and for which many of them are suffering and dying.
These are the principles upon which alone a new world recognizing the brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God can be established.
Wow. With creeds like the above, are you in any doubt that all these people lived consciously and well?
Write your own personal creed
To start you thinking about your creed, highlight any lines in the five examples above that tugged at your heartstrings. These are points you may want to include in your own creed.
Next, re-phrase these key elements of your personal creed in your own words. It must feel natural for you to say these words out loud, even if only to yourself. Your creed must feel like YOU.
Don’t feel that your creed has to be a long poem or statement. It can be a one- or two-liner. What matters is these lines guide your life.
Using these points as a start, go on to write your own personal creed using this detailed walk-through. Feel free to adapt it to suit you.