How do we achieve excellence? Ah, a much tougher question. And yet, Aristotle seemed to think it was quite simple:
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
We tend to think of habits as negative. "I've got this bad habit," we say. But habits can and must be positive or we have little chance to become excellent.
Take stock of your work, career and personal life. What's lacking? What needs improvement? Can you turn those into habits that can be done over and over?
Tony Schwarz, in an excellent Harvard Business Review article, points out that 10,000 hours of practice is the "minimum necessary to achieve expertise in any complex domain." He goes on to recommend "six keys to achieving excellence."
So, how much of your work day is spent "practicing" your skill or specialty? Can you see how time-wasters become a factor? See how those long meetings do nothing but keep you from doing what you should be doing?
Much of working hard is finding and taking the time to practice the right things, whether we feel like it or not. It takes discipline, routine, motivation and every possible means to overcome procrastination and avoidance.
But, if we can just make it a habit, so that we repeatedly do it, we're on the way.
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