Excellence and Fortune Cookie Wisdom

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

I love fortune cookies; there is certain amount of serendipity that occurs whenever I open one. I find that the quotes that are inscribed on those small seemly random bits of paper are almost always directly applicable to the main areas of my life that I am working on.

On a particularly hectic day I had lunch at Lee Ann Chin’s and took a moment to reflect on my last few months. Our family has been busy due to the opening of the new school in Woodbury, it’s been an exciting venture and we have put all our energies into it. Due to the hectic schedule we’ve had, my martial arts training has been intermittent .

I have been doing slow kicks on a regular basis for many years but I have to admit that these past few months it has been easy to let my slowkick habit slip. Slowkicks can be pretty tedious at times (ok – many times), however they are an indispensible aspect of karate training. Strength, precision, stability, balance – all really good stuff for your body, comes from consisent and accurate slow kick practice. But sometimes… you are just too tired to do them.

And I’m human. And that particular day, I was particularly tired. And on that particular day, some defeatist thoughts started to slip into my mind. “You’ve paid your dues, you really don’t need to do them anymore… ” was at the forefront of the assault, followed by “you know you’re older now. No one would blame you if you didn’t work as hard as you used too.” Ahhh… the ‘ol one-two.

Then I opened the fortune cookie:

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

I realized a number of years ago, that even though perfection is unattainable, excellence is the product of the attempt to achieve it. And the blunt truth is this: martial arts skill is all about being able to do things consistently well, over and over again, even when you are tired. And martial arts excellence is the by-product of repeatedly practicing accuracy even when you are tired and your thoughts want to convince you to “just stop now.”

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

Excellence has been my goal for many years. No need to stop now.

~ Paula Aburto Zaragoza
February 2010

Advertisements