Monday, March 17, 2008


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out. Anton Chekhov

I think this is a neat quote. The reason I like it is because I believe that great things are accomplished with persistence. It is the little things that make the difference in life. It is rarely one big event in life that makes us or breaks us. It is our daily habits that make the difference. The philosopher Plutarch said it well when he stated "Character is simply habit long continued." It is what we do everyday that defines who we are.

I like to study successful people. I am interested in knowing what it is that separates the successful from the crowd. I have found that it is rarely one big event. It is most often persistence and a dedication to doing little things consistently and doing them well that makes the difference. Consider Thomas Edison for example. He is widely regarded as a genius and a great inventor. Both of these are correct, but more importantly, he had the ability to do tedious work over and over. He did this tedious work until he achieved the outcome he was seeking. He had a unique ability to see failure in a different light. He viewed failure as an opportunity and as experience gained. He patiently conducted thousands of experiments until he finally found his ultimate success. That is how he invented the incandescent light bulb. He used this same system of patience and persistence to help invent hundreds of other useful products. Most importantly, when he faced difficult times, such as when his laboratory went up in flames and he lost everything, he viewed it as an opportunity rather than a career ending tragedy. It was his ability to recognize that one big event does not make you or break you that made the difference. He continued to be persistent and rebuilt his laboratory and made numerous contributions to science, even though, he was getting advanced in age. He continued on when most people would have given up.

Great strength and accomplishment is rarely born of genius. It does not hurt to be well above the curve in some sort of talent or intellect. However, genius is most often created by mastering the little things. This mastery is accomplished by our habits. I found this saying on habits that I really like. I don't know who wrote it, but it really tells the story.

"I am your constant companion. I am your greatest helper or your heaviest burden. I will push you onward or drag you down to failure. I am completely at your command. Half the things you do, you might just as well turn over to me, and I will be able to do them quickly and correctly. I am easily managed; you must merely be firm with me. Show me exactly how you want something done, and after a few lessons I will do it automatically. I am the servant of all great men. And, alas, of all failures as well. Those who are great, I have made great.Those who are failures, I have made failures. I am not a machine, though I work with all the precision of a machine. Plus, the intelligence of a man. You may run me for profit, or run me for ruin; it makes no difference to me. Take me, train me, be firm with me and I will put the world at your feet. Be easy with me, and I will destroy you. Who am I? I am HABIT!"

Our destiny is not determined by fate. It is determined by our habits. We will do well to take inventory of our habits. What are we doing on a daily basis that is leading us towards our goals. More importantly, what are we doing that may be counter to our goals. It is the little adjustments that can make the most difference.

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