"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit." — Will Durant’s summation of Aristotle’s ideas
What does this quote really mean? Many focus on the words repeatedly and act. In this context, I read the words as follow:
Act to be an action: a single response in a single situation.
Habit to be something done as part of a routine; the acts we do on a daily basis.
The implication of the above is that it doesn’t matter what we do on occasion, in one-off encounters; rather excellence is defined as a habit through your repeated actions.
However what if that is incorrect. What if excellence is not defined by repetition? Looking at it this way, we could rewrite the quote, taking the word repeatedly out altogether:
“We are what we do.
Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.”
Get it? Excellence as a habit manifests itself as excellence in all we do – we can posture and pretend to others that we have things under control, but only by actually doing things in conjunction with a consistent motivation deep inside us does excellence become a habit.
Continuous improvement is a journey, not a destination. It is more than a set of steps to follow - it is a culture that, when embraced by the entire company, results in significant business value.
So my challenge to you is this: Don’t just act. Do. Don’t just posture excellence – Be Excellent.