“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; ‘these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions’; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: ‘the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life. . . for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.’” Will Durant from The Story of Philosophy
There is no one way to approach becoming the best we can be. There is no one path up the proverbial mountain that is better than the others. However, there is a way or path that we develop for ourselves that is the most appropriate for this time and place. There is a way that is our life. No matter what path we choose to bring about the best in ourselves there are two centers of focus directly relating to what we decide is our business. The two focal areas of making the best of ourselves feed off of one another and form the foundation by which we can become what we are capable of becoming.
First, we have to be able to observe our intent. This witnessing of our actions over time helps us to understand who we are in our lives. It allows us to see whether we are consistent in our thoughts and in our actions. It allows us to adapt and integrate our system with the systems we interact with. Second, we have to seek continual improvement. Improvement is a mindset. As the above quote suggests it is a habit born out of seeking excellence in all that we do from the simplest of tasks to our objectives in life. It is incrementally making our life better through adaptation to our ever-changing environment. Seeking continual improvement enables us to be more effective and efficient at whatever our business is whether that be cooking, raising kids, working at our job, sales or achieving some big accomplishment we set out to.
Nurturing excellence in ourselves takes continual improvement, adaptation and integration.