Aristotle And The Power Of Personal Choice

The Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle is probably best remembered in global business circles for one quote that speaks equally to the activities as well as the potential of leading and following:

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

In contemporary terms, excellence has been likened in many ways to mastery of a certain skill or one’s attainment of a certain talent. The dedication of time, focus and perhaps unyielding force to these individual commitments often delivers superior results in a variety of fields – from the arts and sciences, to sport, business and beyond.

Yet in achieving results that may be superlative or unprecedented, we as business executives may overlook that which enabled them from the start.

Somewhere, deep in a person’s life history, resides that moment in time when he or she made a conscious decision to explore their full potential.

At a time when many organisational psychologists are tracking workforce and performance dynamics such as employee engagement, workforce morale, the synergy or misalignment of individuals’ objectives and those of their employers, the risk is that we lose sight of the individual decisions that drive their behaviours, and on a larger scale, enterprise performance.

One observation, which may bear some testing out over time, is that individuals are only as talented as they choose to be. Barring some physical or cognitive inability, individual performance may well be preordained by a person’s interest in the task at hand and their commitment – or lack thereof – to be good at that same challenge.

This point certainly associates with personal motivation. It may also suggest that the most motivated individuals with some of the raw essentials of leadership like guts, courage and sheer determination will equal or perhaps even surpass the performance of others with more talent – but perhaps less heart or desire to achieve the team goal.

It may also suggest the individual who brings no energy or motivation to the cause should not be counted on to make any contribution to its attainment. This point alone may be instructive in directing executives’ investment in and utilisation of the resources needed to realise improved team results.

Every business executive wants to achieve excellence – personally and for the betterment of their teams.

But beyond our commitment of time, and before the realisation of important objectives comes that personal choice within each of us to apply all we have and to muster the best of ourselves to make those team goals a reality.

We are, after all, only as good as we truly want to be.

Copyright © TRANSEARCH International 2014

 

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