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What is Excellence?

Day 12, July 19th

broken image

There is a thing in the running community called a run streak and it just means you see how many days in a row you can go for a run. I don't think it's any more complicated than that, except it seems to that streakers (as they're called) are referring to running a minimum of a mile. I've toyed with starting a run streak lately. I like these kinds of things and they generally come to me when I need to learn something about myself and/or when I need some kind of mental breakthrough with running.

Writing and running go hand in hand for me. They feed off one another and they seem to have similar paths and interchangable lessons. I got this idea to Write the Wall, which means I write a daily blog post based on the running calendar pages (plus a few random things) that I have posted above my writing desk. There are seventy one of those up there--71 days in a row of writing and posting, inspired or not.

Of course, like any new adventure, I was flying high the first few days. And then it got hard. A week or so in I was scanning the wall feeling a kind of desperation for which one to pick. I had condensed this wall down from hundreds of pages to seventy one, so no big surprise it's a pretty tight collection of positivity and you-can-do-it kinds of encouragement. I became aware very quickly that I ride a rollercoaster (a small one, but a rollercoaster all the same) of I can do this, NO I CAN'T! I discovered it has a pattern, thanks to this challenge. And maybe that's what this challenge is for--to point out the things I might want to breeze by that actually need to be addressed. I have multiple pages on the wall with sentiments like You Already Have What It Takes, and if I'm commited to writing everyday about something off my wall, then I have to address those times when I'm not feeling any of these sentiments, which is more than I'd like to admit. It's only taken me about 2 weeks (insert eye rolling emoji) to figure out that might be the whole point of the exercise. I haven't integrated a lot of these ideas, they are all in progress. They made the cut and made it back up on the wall because I need them.

The last few days of writing have not felt very inspired. I even considered not continuing with the challenge. If a post doesn't feel excellent, then should I be posting it? Is it more important to follow through with the challenge I've given myself, or to feel like each post meets some kind of standard of excellence?

I'm standing in front of my wall this morning sipping my coffee and turning that thought over in my mind when I see this:

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

Ohhh...Oh. Sometimes I guess I know what to do before I know why I'm doing it. I'm building a habit of excellence--writing is just the vessel. Just like running.

Ok, I get what I'm doing now. I like this: I get an idea (write the wall)--it super resonates and I don't know why but I commit to doing it--it starts off great--I hit bumps--I question the whole thing--I consider quitting--but I don't--I get through a few tough or ambiguous days--the universe throws me a bone and I can see a bigger purpose--and I keep going.

I've already learned that not all of my runs will be noteworthy, but in the big picture showing up for all of my workouts (showing up for myself) is what builds excellence. Similarly, not all of my posts will knock my socks off, but writing every day will.

We are what we repeatedly do. What a powerful thing to know.