Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"We Are What We Repeatedly Do"

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

What a quote! In both parts. From LRN's website (http://www.lrn.com/About-LRN/about-us.html). Ah! But it was not Aristotle who wrote these words, it was Will Durant who wrote them in writing on what Aristotle wrote (sourced from the blessed Wikipedia):

Will Durant, The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926) Ch. II: Aristotle and Greek Science; part VII: Ethics and the Nature of Happiness:
"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy'" (p. 76).
The quoted phrases within the quotation are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book II, 4; Book I, 7. The misattribution is from taking Durant's summation of Aristotle's ideas as being the words of Aristotle himself.

Dov Seidman (http://www.lrn.com/Leadership/our-executives.html#Seidman) – the founder of LRN and author of How:
"Sixteen years ago, Dov founded LRN with a powerful vision that the world would be a better place if more people did the right thing. From that basic notion, he has grown a successful business that has helped to shape the ways millions of employees, managers and leaders behave and interact all over the globe. LRN helps more than 500 leading companies worldwide – including Allstate, Dow, eBay, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Pfizer, Procter & Gamble and Viacom – develop ethical corporate cultures and inspire principled performance in business."
"Dov maintains that in today's connected and transparent world, people and organizations stand to gain by dedicating new thought and energy to how they do what they do."


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