We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
Aristotle must have been stoned when he coined that, it’s how I trivialize every important discovery. I mean it is so obvious, and yet people still come off the blocks defending their habits. First step is admitting, I have been a serial late comer all my life. It boiled down to lack of planning for anything and everything. I always winged it and it worked. I was brought up in a strict home. My parents were sticklers for rules and they were big on repeat offenses. Whenever I did something wrong, my mother never shied away from pulling previous related mistakes. In short I was a repeat offender. Time was spent charting a chronological path I had taken that had led me to my current mistake and mother always knew how, where and when the dots connected. It was her superpower weaving actions reactions and dishing consequences. My father on the other hand believed that every mistake was a lesson. He still holds this belief to date. I was coasting through life, I never worried much and subscribed to the thought that what is past has already passed.
I took a look at my time management skills or their lack thereof and concluded Aristotle had something going. When I was in primary school I had a habit of getting ready early then slipping behind the curtains for a nap. I stood during this nap; it is possible (without meditation or medication). I always listened out for my name being called and I would appear just as my father folded his hands to pray. I succeeded in making it to school early because my parents wouldn’t have it otherwise. My siblings also helped, my younger brother always woke me up as he was going to the bathroom and would do the same when he came out. I would then proceed to the bathroom have my shower and rejoin him in the bedroom we shared as my nightmare begun.
Each morning was a game of memory-jogging trying to remember where I may have kept my tie, my books (after doing my homework or just staring at it), I couldn’t find my sweater, I just winged it. I did not think anything was the matter. I would not admit it either it would just be admitting my parents were right. I realize now just how foolish that is, that was, that will always be. I went on to complete my primary school studies winging it. I joined high school and was away from home for the first time. I was thirteen and hell bent on maximizing my freedom. In high school if the bell rings for morning preps you had about five minutes between the bell ringing and you sitting in class. The distance from the classes to the dormitory could be a kilometer or less but people had done it, you were not an exception.
I suddenly realized the importance of having a neat shirt on the ready, brushing my shoes at night and sleeping after showering. Those activities I could not manage to cram into five minutes in the five-minute-morning. As I advanced in classes I was chosen prefect, a privilege I abused with such delight I wonder how I stayed on for so long. As a prefect several people were willing to do me favors in exchange for a pardon for a mistake made sometimes out of a misguided belief that I owed them something. Most times you asked someone to do something for you and they did; no malice. As such I stopped brushing my shoes in form 2 someone took care of it. I had a clean shirt and trouser each day and I was up early, all taken care of. No one was bothered by the habits I was forming though. I was taking it all for granted, while my friends planned for exams and had timetables I thumbed through what I felt like, mostly novels and magazines. I wasn’t too worried with getting to class late for preps I was a prefect no one would question. I finished my high school still being woken up.
Going back home my mother castigated my sleeping hours, I started thinking maybe the problem was indeed the sleep. Fast forward to campus, I recall I only kept or followed the timetable for a semester. It was a lot of trouble because essentially I was trying to rewrite a tale. I was relearning a habit I never quite remembered grasping. I had at each stage of my life dropped consistency with every activity to the point that winging it had in fact become my habit. I repeatedly acted aloof went about life without a plan and seldom following through the many plans I set out. I have lived to see the habit tear apart more than it has built. I have seen it take center stage at the staging of my life’s orchestra and even conduct it a few times. I know what it means to go through motions of only hoping and wishing and finally lamenting. I have been honest enough to admit that my parents were right. It is better to have a plan and fail for then you may retrace your steps to the glitch. Success with no plan is short-lived. So I made a plan and this is me following it. I don’t know what comes of it, I just know it is yet another plan made, it begs so desperately to be followed. What are your habits? Are they your excellence?