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Is Excellence An Act or a Habit…

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"Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit."


Aristotle 

The original quote is much longer, but sometimes I think it is helpful to break things down a bit. Can the word excellence really not denote an act, but actually be understood as a habit?  What does this mean?  The idea here is that by acting appropriately each and every day, we will achieve excellence. So, if excellence is ‘won’ by acting rightly again and again, then it follows that excellence is actually a habit, not one act, but a habit. 
 I can’t resist circling back to business here…in business; one stellar moral action does not create morality. In the same way, one great phone call with a client doesn’t mean that you have given the client excellent service, it only means that you had one great phone call and it should be followed by another and another and another.  
Repeated excellent phone calls, thereby creating a habit, will then make your service worthy of being called excellent. Even one charitable contribution does not make you a charitable human being, it simply means that you have committed one action that is good and repeated good actions may lead to an achievement of the virtue of being charitable. Do you see where we are going here? Excellence is only achieved if you choose the right action again and again, each and every time. Check back soon...We are going to stay on this topic!

Do Good Habits Really Lead to a Good Life?

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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Aristotle

Aristotle 

Personally, this is my favorite quote by Aristotle, I just love the emphasis on consistency.  Again and again, all that we read points to the notion that in order to be successful; one must stay the course, follow a routine, be consistent, etc. I hearken back to one of my original blogs, Aristotle had it right all along, no self-help books needed, the secret to the good life is to read philosophy! Seriously though, the secret achieving excellence in work and life is to do the right thing, make the right choice, again and again.  So, are you ready for this exploration, here we go!

“Moreover, we take the human function to be a certain kind of life, and take this life to be activity and actions of the soul that involve reason; hence the function of the excellent man is to do this well and finely.” Aristotle


Everyone is purporting the secrets to a good life, but I always shake my head and think, Aristotle had it right all along.  We give credit to self help books, entrepreneurs that made it big, celebrities that give back and all sorts of other folks along the way, but the real credit belongs to philosophers. Aristotle identified the idea that happiness is what we all seek at the onset of his examination of man. If we move from this premise that we all desire happiness for happiness sake alone, we are better able to ascertain how we should live.  If happiness is the goal, it should follow that all of our activities should be in the pursuit of happiness.  
Now, wait a minute, don’t run in the direction of hedonism believing that you are now living Aristotle’s definition of a good life, you are not. It is a bit more complicated than that…Aristotle believes that you must first define what it means to be happy, and a little hint here, it doesn’t mean that you should pursue pleasure at every turn. Happiness is defined as the "best good” according to Aristotle. So, what would make you happy may not make me happy, does that follow then?  Well, perhaps, but the real crux here is that if you pursue your life rightly, you will behave properly each and every day, thereby becoming consistent and excellent.  How did he make that leap? A minute ago we were talking about happiness and perhaps you were thinking that you should forego work and relax on the beach each day, not so, says Aristotle. You need to identify what makes us human, or more succinctly put, what is the function of being human? Aristotle believes it is "the activity of the soul in accord with reason or requiring reason.” Okay, back to our beginning quote, read it again and this time, think about each word in the quote, are you able to summarize the meaning? Aristotle wants us to understand that we are here for a purpose, that we all share the same goal, happiness…however the path to truly achieving happiness begins with an understanding of our function as humans.  He identifies reason as our uniquely human function, and to achieve excellence, we must learn to reason well. So, let’s go with this pursuit of knowledge and see where it leads.

How will we ever learn to reason well and what does this have to do with business anyways?

I like the exploration of what makes us uniquely human because it provides a framework for our behavior. If we learn to reason well, we will do well in our personal and professional pursuits. But achieving excellence, doesn’t that seem a bit daunting?  Aristotle understood that the pursuit of excellence was a lifelong activity and he put it eloquently when he stated, “For one swallow does not make a spring, nor does one day; nor, similarly, does one day or a short time make us blessed and happy.” (Nichomachean Ethics) 


The point is that it takes a complete life to measure one’s excellence and proper behavior must be exhibited again and again. So, back to business for a moment; if we behave virtuously again and again, what might happen in our business relationships?  How might this consistent application of virtuous behavior affect our professional associations?  What sort of a world would we be living in if reliance on receiving the most virtuous and excellent dealings in business is expected? A satisfactory and pleasant business life would surely ensue.  Aristotle purported that happiness requires an excellent pursuit of our function, namely reason, so it follows that happiness is derived from proper reasoning, which leads to the pursuit of excellence and by proxy, virtuous actions. We haven’t quite answered the leading question yet, it takes a while to dig through this philosophy stuff, stay with us!

5 Ways To Increase Contract Training Sales

Top 5 Ways To Increase Your Contract Training Revenue

1. Find Your Top 50

Strategic selling requires knowing your geographical area, so spend time researching the top 50 businesses that you should contact. Focusing on your top 50 helps to narrow your message and better understand your audience. For example, perhaps you are surrounded by manufacturing facilities...Well, then it might be a good idea to understand the deficiencies that exist in the manufacturing industry today in terms of employee skills. Use this information to customize a program that focuses on upskilling manufacturing employees. 


2. Make Phone Calls

Many people are afraid to make phone calls to potential clients or they have convinced themselves that phone calls are not a productive use of their time.  This isn’t true! Phone calls are a great way to connect with your prospects. Phone calls are personal and 

effective. Your approach and preparation prior to making phone calls is key to making this work. You need to have an idea of what you are going to say, you need to rehearse a bit before diving into a phone call blitz, and you need to smile.  That’s right, it has been said again and again, but people are able to tell if you mean what you say by your tone, so smile, and relax!

3. Being Part of a College Matters, Use The Advantage!

It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day activities and forget that we are part of something bigger. Our college or university has prestige and knowledgeable people on campus, share this knowledge with your community. Send an email to all of the department chairs inquiring about who has published recently, check out their books and articles, and apply that newfound information to one of your programs. Sharing information is key to creating value. 

4. Campaign Strategically Via Email

You probably have a marketing department to help you with this step, but it is critical that you generate content ideas. Part of being able to get meetings with top businesses in your area relies on your knowledge of the trends in business...You need to know what is happening and you need to let area businesses know that your department can help with training needs.

5. Host Your Own Events

One great way to generate opportunity and create buzz around your department is by hosting your own event. Colleges are a hub for exceptional talent. Consider asking faculty and other subject matter experts to speak at your event. Many of these individuals have tremendous experience, knowledge of best practices, innovative ideas, and groundbreaking technologies regarding our marketplace. 


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Fostering a sense of empowerment…

As we continue our exploration into the importance of empowerment in the workplace, I wanted to share one of my favorite TED Talks. Amy Cuddy researches how our body language shapes who we are, she purports that one can actually "Fake it till you become it." In her research, Cuddy discovered that "Our bodies can change our minds, and our minds can change our behavior, which will ultimately lead to our behavior changing our outcomes." Her suggestion that we all practice power posing in an effort to change how we interact with others, how confident we feel, and to empower us to be our best selves is backed by her scientific experiments. Take a listen...