Excellence is a habit

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

Put 100% into EVERYTHING you do – this is what the ancient yogis believed was the key to success. If you want to be good at football then you should not only apply yourself to your football training but also to ordinary day-to-day activities. By doing so you make excellence a habit.

Life these days in the western world can be really easy for a lot of people. Sure, we complain about the weather, traffic and our colleagues but compared to many people in the world we have it easy. We don’t have to work hard. I personally have never had to worry about starving to death, I’ve never been in a war and my house has never been blown away by a hurricane.

You can get by in life these days without putting 100% into it. You can probably cruise through at around 80% and be fine. But the quality of your life will reflect what you put into it. You put in less, you get less back.

Popular culture in the world today does not encourage us to strive for excellence. It doesn’t reward us if we make excellence a habit. In fact it probably encourages the opposite.

When I was in school the kids who worked hard at their homework got teased, and sometimes this attitude still prevails in the adult world. Think about your work colleagues, your friends and family: how many of them are putting 100% into everything they do? Sadly excellence is not a common thing. If you are someone who strives for excellence in all things then you are a rare breed.

Be the exception. Wash the dishes to the very best of your ability, clean the toilet to the very best of your ability. It might not seem like much but by doing this you begin to establish the habit of excellence in everything that you do. As it becomes more entrenched, this habit will spill over into your relationships, work, finances, health…

It’s rather like physical fitness. It takes effort, but the more you do it the easier it becomes. At first you have to train yourself and push yourself towards excellence even when you don’t feel like it. But start with the little things and you’ll soon see it spread across all aspects of your life. If you practice this approach even for a week you’ll see what I’m getting at. And if you persist then eventually you get to the stage where excellence is a habit.

Changing your habits is generally easier said than done but not in this case. If you simply do the next task you do to the very best of your ability then you’re already on your way.

Image: Jef Poskanzer