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Excellence and The Habits of Intentionality

"Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good."
— Malcolm Gladwell

Living intentionally is a lifestyle of our choosing, a commitment to those daily habits of excellence that reveal the purpose behind our drive to achieve desired outcomes. Intentional people plan for, instead of wondering about, the consequences of the year ahead.

Some time ago, I traded my New Year's Resolutions for Yearly Action Plans. I discovered that being intentional consistently outperforms the best of intentions. Action plans require consistent habits; resolutions require well-meaning intentions. I can schedule action plans but not intentions.

Commenting on resolutions and commitments, Phoebe Gavin writes, "Resolutions are statements of intention, while goals are statements of commitment. Resolutions are often vague, like "I will get in shape" or "I will be more productive."

They're often binary. I will do X, or I will not do Y. Resolutions also tend to aim for extreme changes—I will stop overspending—that creates an intimidating gap between the status quo and the desired outcome. None of these approaches to achievement align with the way the human brain creates habits; This is why 80% of New Year's resolutions fail." (1)

Develop the Habit of Intentionality

Merriam Webster defines habits as "a usual way of behaving: something that a person often does in a regular and repeated way."

I'm fascinated with how our brain functions in the habits we form, automatically our brain will defer to the new routine that we are now unconsciously utilizing. Developing new habits is like formatting new patterns for our brain to adapt to; it takes sustained repetitive behavior before our brain releases our old habits to retain the new. So, now is the time to develop the necessary habits that can carry our commitments throughout the coming year.

Character and The Habit of Excellence are Synonymous

"Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort."
— Paul J. Meyer

Whenever someone achieves and maintains excellence, they usually exceed expectations. Consistently delivering high-level outcomes is what quality assurance is all about, and the secret to maintaining quality assurance is learning to develop habits of excellence. One definition of excellence is "the fact or state of excelling; superiority; eminence." It should be evident that excellence requires practice which leads to higher quality consistency.

John C. Maxwell comments on excellence and consistency, saying, "I agree with Aristotle: "Excellence is not an act, it's a habit." To gain a reputation for excellence necessitates delivering results whenever you're called upon." To do that requires consistency.

It's no mystery that organizations with a loyal customer base year in and year out are recognized for having a culture of excellence. Organizational Cultures are the byproduct of the consistent communal habits of its personnel. Whether intentional or unintentional, we are what we think about and repeatedly do.

How do the best organizations continue providing quality assurance? The answer is the pursuit of perfection, which fuels their desire to outperform themselves from one year to the next. When chasing perfection becomes a habit, excellence becomes our lifestyle. Former NFL Head Coach Vince Lombardi always reminded his teams, "Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

Author James Clear writes, "True behavior change is identity change. You might start a habit because of motivation, but the only reason you'll stick with one is that it becomes part of your identity. Anyone can convince themselves to visit the gym or eat healthy once or twice, but if you don't shift the belief behind the behavior, then it is hard to stick with long-term changes.

Improvements are only temporary until they become part of who you are.

• The goal is not to read a book, the goal is to become a reader.

• The goal is not to run a marathon, the goal is to become a runner.

• The goal is not to learn an instrument, the goal is to become a musician." (2)

"For all my friends in the media who like quotes, mark this quote down. From this day on I'd like to be known as 'The Big Aristotle' because Aristotle once said, 'Excellence is not a singular act; it's a habit. You are what you repeatedly do."
— Shaquille O'Neal

End Notes

(1) What is the difference between goals and resolutions? By Phoebe Gavin

(2) Atomic Habits by James Clear

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