Monday, November 09, 2009

Aristotle and the Pursuit of Excellence

Back when Mark and I were making designs to build our fitness facility in Pella and dreaming about what that space would become, I ran across a quote that has stuck with me over the years. I believe I was onsite at Clow Valve when I read a statement about excellence from Aristotle:

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

It had such an impact on me that one of my visions was to paint motivational quotes on the walls of the fitness floor. This quote was at the top of my list. It has implications for all spheres of life – the physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual.

Growing a business gives me ample opportunity to put this truth to practice. However, that’s easier said than done. Certainly there is no shortage of things to do. I have an extreme passion for excellence, but I haven’t always been successful at marking my course. It's been said that a goal without a plan is only a wish. Developing excellence while attempting to manage what seems like a million tasks seems an impossible task at times. It’s easy to get lost in the forest of responsibilities. I find it easy to think big and see the big picture, but determining my individual, daily steps to get there can be a challenge. I wish...

To provide the structure I need, I have found that it is essential to make a map for each day. Sometimes mentally, sometime physically I jot down a priority list of things that must be accomplished today. I guess you could call this my “act rightly” list. If I want to achieve excellence and demonstrate virtue today, I must habituate myself – train myself – to accomplish these most important tasks.

You’ve heard it said that “the harder you work the, the luckier you are.” The gist of that adage is that luck really isn’t luck at all. Excellence is the same way. It’s not an accident or a coincidence that a person or an organization is successful. One fortunate break does not breed excellence. No, it’s all about acting rightly, training yourself (habituation) to repeatedly do what must be done.

Yes, it’s necessary to act rightly to achieve my desired outcome – excellence. My successes and yours – past, present, and future – are not at all a result of luck. Our healthy habits will bring about a predictable and desirable response – EXCELLENCE. Have you developed a plan to reach your goal, or are you only wishing? Have you prepared your map for today?

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