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