the way you do one thing is the way you do everything

I recently read an old Zen saying, “The way a person does one thing is the way they do everything.” There’s great truth in it, and it’s worthwhile to contemplate these words and let their meaning seep into our consciousness.

If we have a task at hand — no matter what it is — we need to make sure that we do it with the best of our ability. 

Just not doing one thing to our fullest capability may have a negative impact on our work ethic and our focus on the process needed to accomplish one of our big goals. 

When lifestyle coach and former professional surfer Tobias Atkins heard the above mentioned saying from his mentor, it made him reevaluate his entire approach to the way he was living his life. He writes, “I used to be someone who would cut corners on what I thought were small things. For example, I would make my bed but I wouldn’t tuck the sheets all the way in. I would clean the house but not pull the lounge out and vacuum under. I would complete a task to 80% of my ability and then stop when I thought it was good enough. What I couldn’t see at the time was; by cutting corners on the small things and not doing them to the best of my ability, I had developed a habit of laziness and mediocrity.”

When we don’t abide by this truth, we choose mediocrity as an avenue to pursue in our life. We gradually start cutting corners in other areas and aspects of our lives as well.

I’m sure you would have heard this popular quote, that is often attributed to Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” The same applies for mediocrity.

Mediocrity in one area of life breeds mediocrity in other spheres of life as well. And the only way to not let it enter our lives is to not consider it as a viable option.

If we want to be successful in the long run, we need to commit to excellence. We need to commit to doing whatever task we have at hand, whether at work, at home or in our community, to the best of our ability. Once excellence becomes a habit for us, we position ourselves to attract better and greater success in our life. 

As Coach John Wooden said, “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”