“As it is not one swallow or a fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.” — Aristotle
Historian Will Durant paraphrased:
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
This is an idea I reflect on daily.
I think about how hard it is to create or produce excellent thoughts and behaviors in the beginning of any endeavor.
It’s easy to take shortcuts. It’s easy to find a quick fix or hack. It’s natural to want instant gratification.
Sometimes it feels like an uphill battle insisting on doing things the right way.
Creating systems and standards, working and reworking to ensure nothing is missed, that everything is considered, and that all that is necessary for influencing an outcome is given proper attention.
It is trudging. Progress is slow and painstaking.
One day, however, after months or years, or perhaps decades, these habits and systems of mindful action become automated.
They take on a life of their own, and it’s as if there is a magic or genius behind them.
In the current moment, after this period of struggle has matured into mastery, you meet your challenges with a magical fluency that seems effortless to onlookers.
And suddenly success seems to gravitate and find its way to you.
The reality is there was a guiding vision, an ideal, a devotion to a standard or principle that forced the tedious work of laying the unflattering foundation brick by brick which now supports the marvelous works that seem so effortless to others.
I think of these tedious efforts as investments. I am investing in my future state of being, by organizing my mind and actions in a way that allows me to filter, categorize, process, decide, and act with accuracy and speed.
How will I know my investment will yield returns?
Because action is the greatest teacher.
Act, observe, reflect, assess, adjust, repeat.
Err on the side of action.
Apologize for action, never inaction.
I believe that this intentional way of acting to tediously improve outcomes will make you a better human, and that may not immediately translate for your current endeavor, but it will translate into better outcomes for future endeavors.
This devotion to excellence prepares you for every successive moment, which in turn forms the character of a blessed and happy life.
And you never know what moment will be ripe for the taking and yours to seize.