I Am a Derivative of My Habits

Adrian S. Potter
4 min readAug 28, 2021

For better or worse.

Photo by Moe Magners from Pexels

The Secondhand Inspiration Project begins with a motivational quote and ventures wherever the creative path meanders.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” — Will Durant

This is one of my favorite quotes, but I always thought these words were Aristotle’s. I am not the only one — there are entire articles written about the misattribution of these two sentences.

But I am not writing about that. I want to rant about habits — constructive and harmful — and how my identity is a byproduct of both my progressive actions and the same old BS I do daily.

That is what I love about this quote — its edges are so sharp that it cuts deep both ways.

Maybe it is vain, but I usually imagine myself boldly filling the excellence role. I envision doing the necessary work to be an exceptional supervisor, prolific writer, loving parent, workout warrior, devoted spouse, kindhearted volunteer, and fearless leader.

The truth is I do many of those things. But if I constantly took the necessary steps to be perfect, I would not need to obsessively digest self-help books or motivational podcasts.

I stray somewhere along the path. I admit it.

My shortcomings come in the repeatedly portion of this mantra. It’s easy to accomplish great things occasionally but doing them consistently is tricky. Waking up early each morning. Adhering to a healthier diet. Writing 500 words daily. Making all the necessary business calls with clients. Allotting time to meditate.

These habits are challenging. And if I shoot straight, sometimes I hit the mark, but often I need to straighten my aim.

Photo by Prophsee Journals on Unsplash

To armor my ego, I reflexively envision the downside of this quote with an imaginary friend that has problematic behaviors. That buddy who is fun to hang with but smokes a little too much weed. My neighbor who plays video games instead of working on his side hustle. The colleague that frequently buys lattes at the coffee shop when their finances are…

Adrian S. Potter

Antisocial Extrovert · Writer and Poet, Engineer, Consultant, Public Speaker · Writing about self-improvement, gratitude, and creativity · www.adrianspotter.com