Monday, August 1, 2011

Discipline and excellence

"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, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (inner quotations are from Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics)*

*this is often misattributed, but succinctly, as Aristotle's own: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."

Those who truly excel in an activity tend to excel in life. Practice with discipline. Train with discipline. Live with discipline.

simple hard work - Guanacos Route, Aconcagua
Discipline does not mean "showing up for the game". It means showing up for the game and doing what you need to do, not what you want to do. It means that you can correct your own errors. It means that you act with an understanding of the cost and benefit. It means that thought has been put into your actions. It means that we are honest with ourselves on many levels.

Achieving higher levels of discipline can be incredibly easy or it can be painfully difficult. It seems easiest when we have truly identified what we want. Then the behaviors necessary to achieve our goals
fall into place. Identify what you want by being brutally honest with yourself. If you can't be honest with yourself, then life tends to be filled with obstacles and poor motivation. After all, how can you be psyched if you don't really want it?

Finally, having discipline allows us to practice perfectly. We become cognizant of repeating behavior and identifying whether it is helping our performance or hurting our performance. Those with discipline know that repetition will set the mold. Again, practice perfectly.


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