Excellence and Habit Building

Excellence is a habit

Liz recently reminded me of how important excellence really is.

Excellence Comes From…

“Daddy, how come you make everything look so easy?”

“I don’t think I do,” Cree answered carefully.

“Every time you show me the ‘right’ way to do something make it look like it’s easy,” Liz said, pointing at the frying pan to emphasize her point.

Cree thought about this for a moment, realizing that he’d just made breakfast without actually looking at the pan. Additionally, he’d managed to give Liz a lecture on kitchen safety. So he said the first thing that came to mind.

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


By The Numbers

After explaining to Liz about what it takes to make doing things the right way a habit, I began to think. We have an entire bookshelf dedicated to books for our children, “organized” by their reading ability. Lately, the children made a habit of tearing it apart every morning, so I took the opportunity to teach Liz by example.

Breaking It Down

“I want you to organize the bookshelf,” Cree said to Liz as he walked her over to the mess.

“But there’s so many!” Liz began to protest.

“Start by laying every single book in one straight line across the room.”


“Here you go,” Cree handed her the a stack of books and walked away, ignoring her protests.

Once she announced that they were all laid out, Cree showed her to make stacks out of the books that were the same size.

Excellence Organizing Books
The Children’s Books

“But…” Liz began, cutting herself off as Cree turned to leave.

“Great, now put them in order from largest to smallest,” Cree said showing her how to measure by picking up a book and moving it down the line until all the books to the left were smaller and all the books to the right were bigger.

Without arguing, she immediately went to work. Finishing in a couple of minutes.

“All right, now start from the right, and place the books on the shelf in size order.”

Before Cree could demonstrate, Liz began, and soon had her siblings helping her put the book in order on the shelf. Afterwards, Cree gave her a big hug and asked how she felt.

“It feels cool to see.”

Cree grinned inside at the recognition of Liz’s sense of accomplishment.

Force of Habit (Lessons Learned)

It takes at least three weeks to build a habit. Additionally, Liz isn’t the one solely responsible for the books. However, I have a warm and fuzzy that she might take the time to show her siblings how to keep it looking nice because of her sense of accomplishment.

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