Excellence is not an act, but a habit. This quote, attributed to the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle, has become something of a cliché in motivational speeches and self-help books. But like many clichés, it holds a kernel of truth that is worth exploring.
At its core, the idea is that excellence is not the result of a single extraordinary effort, but the culmination of many small, daily actions. It’s not enough to simply have talent or intelligence; you must also cultivate good habits and work consistently to improve your skills.
For example, if you want to become a great writer, you can’t just sit down and write a masterpiece in one sitting. You need to make writing a daily habit, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day. You need to read widely, study the craft, and practice your skills. Over time, these small actions will add up, and you will find yourself writing better and better.
The same is true in any field. If you want to become a great athlete, you need to make exercise and training a daily habit. If you want to become a great musician, you need to practice every day, even when you don’t feel like it.
But there’s more to the quote than just the idea of habit. It’s also a reminder that excellence is not something that can be achieved once and then forgotten. It’s an ongoing process that requires constant attention and effort. You can’t rest on your laurels or coast on past successes. You must always be striving to improve and refine your skills.
This can be a daunting prospect, but it’s also liberating. It means that excellence is within everyone’s reach, as long as they are willing to put in the work. It’s not just for the naturally talented or the lucky few. Anyone can cultivate the habits of excellence and reap the rewards.
So, the next time you’re feeling discouraged or overwhelmed, remember that excellence is not an act, but a habit. Make a commitment to daily action, no matter how small, and trust that over time, those actions will add up to something great. And who knows, you may just surprise yourself with what you can achieve.