HABITS AND EXCELLENCE

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

- Aristotle or Will Durant?

Anyone who knows me and my deep affection for routines and habits will understand why I am drawn to the above quote. It resonates with what I teach and truly believe.

I recently had new business cards made up. I was excited to put the above quote on the back side of the card and attribute it to Aristotle. Like so many others, I trusted what I saw on the internet and did not dig too deeply.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to chat with Professor Angela Duckworth for a few minutes about habits. And I gave her my card. In her very kind way, and with a big smile, she indicated that the quote is not exactly what Aristotle said. Yikes!

At her suggestion, I googled “did Aristotle say…..and input the quote.” Sure enough, while it is often attributed to Aristotle, these were actually the words of philosopher Will Durant, paraphrasing Aristotle in his book, The Story of Philosophy. So now it is unclear to me who gets the attribution - it is Aristotle’s idea but Durant’s wording.

Me (starstruck) with Angela Duckworth on the first day of Research Methods.

Me (starstruck) with Angela Duckworth on the first day of Research Methods.

As a student last year in the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania, I had the privilege of taking a course in Research Methods with Professor Duckworth.

She is an amazing teacher and I learned a lot from her class. However, the lesson I learned this past weekend might be even more valuable - to create a habit of excellence, I need to make it a practice of checking that which I ‘think’ I know to be true.

As for my business cards, I intend to keep them as is and use the quote as a conversation starter for how there is always opportunity for personal growth and development. The next time I reorder the cards, I will consider creating my own quote!

Best wishes for a happy and healthy holiday season filled with unexpected opportunities to learn.

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