“Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” Aristotle
What a bold statement! Let’s unpack it a bit: If quality is not an act, then it’s not something we do and bring to our craft once in a while. If it’s a habit, then it’s simply part of who we are — it’s ingrained in us and we bring it to our work automatically, without even being aware of it or straining after it.
What an empowering approach to excellence! It’s not something we do, it’s simply who we are. How can we make it a habit, part of our writing DNA? Here’s one approach: We can make a decision to surpass ourselves, to do a little more than expected each and every day.
Here’s what I mean: I remember a story of a new coach taking on a cycling team that had more losses than wins. It wasn’t even considered a contender. But the coach had a plan: Instead of trying to push the team past its limits in an effort to win, he focused on making 1% improvements in everything they did.
Just 1% improvements. They built these into every aspect of their training — their daily practice on the roads, their nutrition and eating, their sleep, even the massages they received. Over time, those 1% changes added up and within a few years, the team went on to win the Tour de France — the most grueling sports event in the world.
Think about how we might apply this to our writing. Just sitting at our desks a little longer, writing one more paragraph when we feel like quitting, searching for that one better word instead of settling for one that doesn’t feel quite right. I
If we do this steadily and with intention, our own 1% improvements will begin to add up. Pretty soon, we’ll be surpassing ourselves — doing work we didn’t feel we were capable of. We’ll get out of our comfort zones and stretch our limits.
Let’s make quality a habit. Let’s go for small improvements until finding them becomes part of who we are — a habit. Let’s surpass ourselves as we all write on!