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I N T H E T RENCHE S

Excellence as a Habit By Allen McBroom

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

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Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about Aristotle. Yes, that’s right, Aristotle. We’re all sort of familiar with three ancient Greek names: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Socrates (I can’t help but recall “Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” in which they pronounced Socrates as “Sew Crates”) was the first of the three. Plato then studied under Socrates, and Aristotle studied under Plato. By the time Aristotle came around, he was the downhill beneficiary of two of history’s greatest thinkers, so it’s no wonder Aristotle himself became quite a quotable guy. Aristotle had a lot to say about life and the quality of life, but this month I’d like to focus on a couple of specific Aristotelian quotes. First, he had this to say about excellence: “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” Similar to the first quote, our old friend Aristotle also said this: “Whatever we learn to do, we learn by actually doing it; men come to be builders, for instance, by building, and harp players by playing the harp. In the same way, by doing just acts, we come to be just; by doing self-controlled acts, we come to be self-controlled; and by doing brave acts, we become brave.” I think the idea behind both of these quotes can be summed up by one sentence from the first quote: “We are what we repeatedly do.” In this day of highly competitive retail, when it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed by the constant demand on our limited time, I think we all would benefit from taking a break for a moment and pondering that one sentence. “We are what we repeatedly do.” Taking control of our retail hours can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Breaking our days down into a series of demands, prioritizing those demands and then finishing each task (as much as can be done) before starting another would be a good start. Make a list of what needs to be done, and then do it. Find joy in striking items from your list as they are completed. Do this every day, and your use of time will get better, because you are repeatedly doing what it takes to be organized. Walk the entire store every day (before opening if possible) and look at everything. Peek into corners. Look for unpriced stock, look for poorly merchandized stock and think about ways for the store to have a better sense of flow. When the employees make it in, go over what you found with them, and give them a list of things to address. Don’t just hand them the list; discuss it with them. Get their insight. Do this repeatedly, and not only will your store look better, your staff will know that you are going to review the overall store appearance every day, and they’ll start trying to see the store through your eyes. Remember: “We are what we repeatedly do.” At one time, I’d triage my work tasks into three piles. I had the “do-right-now” pile, the “do-pretty-soon” pile and the “do-when-Iget-around-to-it” pile. Then, some smart person made the observation that good time management dictates that each task be handled only once, and I thought that was a good approach, one I could JULY 2019

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Music & Sound Retailer July 2019, Vol 36 No 7  

In July’s Summer NAMM issue, we take an in-depth look at the NAMM Music Education Advocacy Fly-In, make the long trip to Italy to visit Proe...

Music & Sound Retailer July 2019, Vol 36 No 7  

In July’s Summer NAMM issue, we take an in-depth look at the NAMM Music Education Advocacy Fly-In, make the long trip to Italy to visit Proe...