Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Habit of Excellence

With my holiday break over now, it's time to get back into the swing of things. Sometimes that's difficult to do unless you have some good habits. Excellence, for instance.

Aristotle said, "We are what we repeatedly do . . . excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit". You must practice at being "excellent". Practice at obtaining knowledge. Know that you need to constantly increase your understanding of what, how, and why something needs to be done. All of this will lead to new or improved skill sets which with repetition translates into habits. Those habits then translate into excellence.

As an example of how this works, think about learning a new language. Learning a language in a class is good, but it's limited. What happens when you go to visit the country or even live there. How far do you think the classroom instruction is going to get you? Sure you'll be able to ask for a taxi or where the bathroom is, but that will only get you so far. Fact is, you'll have a lot more learning and practice to do in order for it to become an involuntary "habit" - before you become an excellent linguist and able to hold a meaningful conversation.

Put these types of habit forming applications to work in your organization and see how much further you go. You'll be surprised. It will not only benefit you, but also your team and your organization. The habit of excellence brings with it a better attitude, higher levels of commitment, and a better chance for advancement and responsibility. You can't wait for excellence to come to you or be given to you - you have to go after it.

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