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Excellence is a habit

I like this quote that I found in The Mind & The Brain (Schwartz & Begley): 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle

From brain research done in the last 5 years, we learn that neurons (brain cells) that fire together wire together. The question is, “What do we repeatedly do?” We can either be creating excellence or mediocrity.

Daniel Pink recently listed his seven rules for writing. I’m going to modify a few of them here along with my own comments and ideas about maintaining daily habits.

  • Show up. Be present in each moment. It’s the only one I have.
  • Be useful. Seek out ways to be useful whether it’s helping with a tedious task at the office or putting dishes in the dishwasher.
  • Move. Exercise releases the stresses that build up over time and allows ideas to come to the front of my mind.
  • Connect. Have a meaningful conversation with a friend or co-worker each day. If you ask, “How are you?”, stop to really listen to the answer. 
  • Be thankful. Look for one thing each day to be grateful, even if it’s simple like the sunshine falling on the floor or a beautiful raindrop hanging from a branch.
  • Take one action. Act on and do one thing each day to advance your dream.
  • Eat well. Food nourishes me and gives me energy, which is why I choose whole foods as often as possible. (Many of my readers know that I’ve followed the Dean Ornish program since 1997.)
  • These rules work for me. Your mileage may vary.

I remind myself to keep the momentum going. Like turning a flywheel, restarting a habit takes far more energy than maintaining one. As we commit to develop personal habits of excellence, our organizations and families will change along with us.

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