I recently returned from Egypt after visiting an array of massive pyramids, temples, and tombs. Many of these structures have stood for nearly 5000 years and were built with fantastic precision.  For example, the Great Pyramid of Giza was constructed over 20 years ago, utilizing over 2 million stones and weighing 25 to 80 tons. It is still a mystery how the Egyptians precisely moved the stones into place.  The stones are perfectly level and assembled without mortar with such tight tolerances you cannot get a credit card into the gaps. 

We can look to the construction of the pyramids to deliver a number of core principles of successful building, whether we are building a structure, a business, or anything else we want to last for a long time.  Here are four building principles the pyramids can teach us:

  • Have a vision and solid purpose for what you build. 

It is not entirely clear what purpose the pyramids served, but whatever it was, it provided the clarity and motivation to build over 100 pyramids throughout Egypt. Everything we build, a structure, a business, a relationship, or even a movement, requires a clear vision to “see” what it is that we want to create.  We then need a deep and abiding purpose to provide fuel and motivation to press beyond the inevitable challenges and barriers that will be present.

  • Enroll others to assist you in the construction process.

The pyramids were not built by slave labor.  They were built by a dedicated and highly organized group of skilled workers. They built these structures for their Pharaoh, who they believed to be a God. The workers were well cared for and received abundant benefits for their work and dedication, including food, shelter, and acknowledgment.

Similarly, when we endeavor any type of building project, our success hinges on enrolling others in our vision and assisting in the building process.  When we have a team behind us, we have access to an array of skills, knowledge, and insights that will ensure greater success. If we employ the right team members, coaches, consultants, and mentors, our building projects will go up faster and last longer.

  • Begin with a solid and level foundation. Ensure everything is plumb and in alignment.

The pyramids, by virtue of their broad-based design, cannot topple. They are also level and consistently in alignment with the four points of the compass.  This adherence to the solid, immovable principles of construction is the reason why many of the pyramids still stand today after thousands of years. Depending on what we build, there are foundational principles that, if followed, will ensure a solid and long-lasting structure. 

Whatever we build must incorporate the true and solid principles that govern the elements of what is being assembled. In business, the foundational principles are found in proven leadership, accounting, financial and marketing strategies. In relationships, the foundational principles are found in proven communication and connection strategies. What is a litmus test to a principle? A principle is always true under any circumstance.

  • Learn from your mistakes and employ the successful strategies of others.

The first pyramid in Egypt was built during the first dynasty, which was a stepped pyramid made up of stacked mastabas in reducing size. Later, during the 4th dynasty, a “bent” pyramid was built, with the first phase being built at a 54-degree angle and the second phase at a 43-degree angle, giving the pyramid a bent appearance. The angle was believed to be changed midway due to concerns that the steep angle left the pyramid less stable.  All subsequent pyramids were built with a 43-degree angle.

Success leaves clues and is duplicatable. If the result we are receiving is not the outcome we want, shift and make changes. If we are getting what we want, lock the strategy in place to duplicate the success over and over again.  If what we are doing is not working, seek out what is working and employ the “best practices” whenever possible.

Everyone is building something: a building, a business, or a life of significance. We can build them in haste and ignore solid building principles to our detriment. Or we can take time to employ the wisdom developed over thousands of years of learning and experience. If you want it to last, embrace time-tested principles and wisdom.