“We are what we repeatedly: Excellence, then, is not an act: it is a Habit.” This is one of my all-time favorite quotes, said thousands of years ago by Aristotle.
Excellence is a habit.
So what is a habit? While coaching Mental Conditioning at IMG Academy, I asked this question, and one of my Portuguese tennis players, in very thick accent said, “A habit is something that we do over and over and over again until it becomes part of the very essence of our being.” Imagine if excellence became part of the very essence of our being?
I want you to imagine a canyon. As water runs through a canyon, it continues to get deeper and deeper. Habits in our lives are like canyons, and the more we do something the more deeply engrained it becomes into who we are as individuals. The tricky part about habits though, is that, we don’t only have good habits…we can also have bad habits. So let’s consider the bad habit of cheating. There are multiple places where people can cheat: on a test, in the weight room, in the boardroom, or with your significant other.
And here’s the thing about habits – our brains and our bodies don’t know if we are in the classroom, on the playing field, at work, or with the one we love. They only know the habit that we’ve created. So when times get tough or we get tired or frustrated, we will revert to whatever habits we have created in we life. We will do whatever we have trained to become part of the very essence of our being.
As leaders, it is critical that we start developing good habits within ourselves. As leaders and influencers in this world, everything we do matters, because everything we do is creating either a good habit or a bad habit in our lives.
This is also why bad habits are so hard to break. Because they are like canyons in our brains and bodies! The exciting part is though, that although it’s really difficult, we can change these bad habits; we can re-direct the water and create a new canyon. It’s tough, but the more we re-direct, the more that water runs through the new canyon, then the more deeply this good habit becomes in our lives, until eventually it becomes the dominant response. We can in fact create Canyons of Excellence within ourselves as leaders. So if you’re struggling with smoking, this is why it’s hard to quit…but you can do it. If you’re in a bad relationship pattern, this is why it’s hard to stop going back…but you can do it. If you have the bad habit of beating yourself up mentally and always saying negative things to yourself, this is why it’s hard to change your thought patterns…but you can do it.
Ladies and gentlemen, everything you do matters. Everything. And this is why: because you are creating habits in your life with everything you do. Create Canyons of Excellence in every aspect of your life!