We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
~Will Durant (paraphrasing Aristotle)
My husband and son are building a pizza oven in our backyard. It will take them all summer, but I’m told that soon we’ll be producing deliciousness in three-minute increments for our friends and neighbours. One step in the construction recently involved a lesson in precision rock splitting from a friend who’s a stone mason. Tap, tap, tap. Nothing. Tap, tap, tap. Nothing. Eventually…tap, tap…and the rock split right down the line he’d carefully marked.
Imagine if he’d stopped one whack too soon?
We’re also installing new countertops in our kitchen. One portion of them will be made of quartz while another is granite. We can put hot pots directly on the granite, but not on the quartz. But here’s the challenge: the quartz will appear not to be affected by heat. And the first time we set down a pan directly out of the oven, it likely won’t do any damage. Ditto for the second time. But eventually, the quartz will split in that spot because the resin in it will have melted invisibly over time.
Our habits matter. Our repeated behaviours yield results down the line, whether we see those results along the way or not. So, don’t be discouraged — carry on doing the work, and the payoff will eventually come. Unless you’re misbehaving. In which case, stop.
Then go eat pizza.