Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Can Ash Wednesday Lead to Personal Greatness?

“Excellence is not an act, it is a habit.” (concept attributed to Aristotle)

Today is Ash Wednesday. For many Christians this means the beginning of Lent and a time to give up some bad habits or to create some good ones. For non-christians it is the day they often see Christians walking around with what looks like dirt on their foreheads. But Christian or not, it behooves any of us to reflect on the habits we have and decide if they are benefiting us. If not, we have the chance to change them.

I’m currently reading

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

and I’m intrigued already. Early in the book it is estimated that 40% of our day is driven by our habits. We don’t think about what we are doing, we are on auto-pilot. These habits develop over time to make it easier for the brain to function. For example, once you master driving a car you don’t really think about all of the various actions involved anymore. (that definitely explains some of the drivers on the NJ Turnpike). But think about it. Arethe habits we have helping to unleashing our personal greatness?

The quote ”Excellence is not an act, it is a habit” is attributed to Aristotle because he believed that the culmination of life should be achieving excellence in all we do. Excellence would bring us a true happiness that no one could take away. Aristotle also believed that it was not one act that achieved excellence, but a lifetime of habits.

I’m not going to write how to change bad habits, or create good ones. At least not yet. But just for today take a moment and think. Are my behaviors, choices, and decisions leading me to unleashing my best? Or are their some bad habits that get in the way of my best? I know I have habits of checking Facebook or emails right in the middle of writing, or eating something so I have the excuse not to go to the gym, or allowing comments to affect my passion and dedication.

The first step in any change is awareness. Identify the habits that get in the way, notice what triggers them and what reward you get out of them. This might be the perfect day to start.

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