It’s what we do that counts

“We are what we repeatedly do,” said Aristotle. And I for one am not going to argue with him. Not just because he’s, well, Aristotle. But because he’s absolutely right. We can have all the hopes and aspirations that we want. But if we don’t do something tangible to achieve them, our dreams are destined to remain just that.

Much of what I do is about planning. I help people to set goals and to develop strategies to achieve them. Sometimes I help them to turn these into detailed plans. Business plans, operational plans, team plans, personal development plans. And that’s great. But having goals, a strategy and even a plan is just the start. It’s what we do next that counts.

The key word here is ‘do’.

And this is where Aristotle comes in. Because it doesn’t matter how good our goals, our strategies and our plans are if we don’t actually do anything to make them happen.

Sadly, this is also where we (and I count myself among this number, too) so often fall down. Because making plans is fun. We can make them at home or in the office, with a nice cup of tea, with all of our creature comforts around us.

Making our plans happen, on the other hand, is scary.

It’s scary because it means we have to do things differently. We have to take risks. It’s become a truism that ‘if you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got’. And so if we want to achieve something different or something better, we’re going to need to do things differently.

Say, for example, that I want to become a faster runner. I’m not going to get faster simply by setting a goal to run a 10k in under 40 minutes. I’m not even going to get faster by developing a detailed training plan. Or by reading ‘101 ways to run faster’, by Speedy J. Mountaingoat. And critically, I’m not going to run faster just by continuing to do whatever running training I’m already doing.

Instead, I must identify the things that I need to do differently.

So I might need to run further or more frequently. I might need to do specific speedwork sessions. I might need to spend some time with a coach. I might need to lose weight or change what I eat. Distressingly, I might need to do all of these things.

And having identified the things I need to do differently, I then need to actually do them differently. I need, in Aristotle’s words, to turn them into things that I repeatedly do. I need to make them part of who I am.

This is not, of course, just about running. And it’s not just about work. It’s about how we teach ourselves to grow as individuals. It’s about how we seek to achieve our goals in life, our aspirations and our dreams. We can sit and dream, safe within our comfort zone, or we can turn our dreams into action… and so into reality. Aristotle would surely agree.

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