We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.
With this quote, Aristotle describes something that many workers tend to forget. While natural talent accounts for some amount of success, “excellence” more often comes from hard work and discipline. When discussing success, we often think of long-term goals and accomplishments. However, it’s important to remember that it is the little things done every single day that create success – those long-term goals and accomplishments are therefore really a collection of short-term tasks that are tackled on a daily basis.
If you are looking to build a successful career, then, it is important to think in terms of your daily to-do list. If you already have one completed, look it over. If you haven’t made one, now is a good time to start. When formulating it or reviewing it, look at what you are planning to do regarding your long-term goals.
Is it something that is built into your daily schedule? Or are you putting it off until “someday,” when you will magically have more time? Without making your long-term success a daily habit, will that big project that is supposed to propel you there just turn into something sloppily put together at the last minute once you hit some inevitable deadline?
As you can see, long-term success also tends to coincide with time management skills and not procrastinating. Are you able to spend just twenty minutes a day this week on a component for a bigger project you’ve just been “meaning to get to?” Remember, the longer you put off big, important projects, the bigger they start to seem until they appear insurmountable.
Suppose that you don’t have any “big” projects looming, though. How else can you make success a daily habit beyond just fulfilling your standard job functions to a satisfactory level? Have you been listening to your company recently? Conversations with fellow employees who are having a hard time with certain functions in their jobs can turn into a goldmine of potential opportunities for you to provide solutions and contribute to the success of your company, as well as your own individual success as a byproduct.
At the next cross-departmental meeting you have, listen closely. If you feel like most of the conversation is over your head, chances are you first need to start learning more generally about your business. However, as you become more familiar with its internal workings, you will also start identifying problems you can solve, that you can then begin tackling on a daily basis.
You could even start with your own day to day functions – how can you make yourself more efficient? What problems does your department face each day that you can tackle in a real way? In SAP, this could mean something as simple as automating a routine process for the accounting department to simplify some of their regular functions, or making use of a code generator to produce code that you use frequently in ABAP.
Building your success day-by-day and making excellence a daily habit does more than just make you a good worker; it also provides you with the momentum you need to carry you forward and maintain a good attitude. If a daily victory seems too ambitious at the moment, try a technique used by many sales people: sandwich your weeks with success. Successful salespeople always schedule a sales call they are almost 100% certain they will close on a Monday or a Friday. That way, they begin their week with a victory that can carry them through to the rest of the week, and they end on a positive note.
Try scheduling time to work on your long-term goals for success on Monday and Friday each week for a while and see how the positive impact affects your productivity and your attitude.
Image courtesy of jay8085 via Creative Commons