Goals Managing Self Planning Values

Bringing excellence into our lives

Written by Denise Mortati

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


How can we bring excellence into our lives, into our careers? When we were fledgling attorneys, we certainly did not feel that we were excellent in any way: there was still so much more to learn, and we were smart enough to know that we had to put in a great deal of time and effort to be even good at what we did, let alone excellent. We knew very quickly that what we had learned in law class were simply words on a page, and putting this knowledge into practice was another thing indeed.

But we are always learning. So the question is: can we ever excel? I think excellence comes from trying, and the making of these attempts into a regular habit, the constant striving to be better at everything that we do. It stems from our understanding that perfection can never be achieved, but we can continue to work towards it, bettering ourselves and those around us through our intentions and our hard work.   It’s also recognizing that we can’t know everything, and from this place of humility, pushing ahead.

Certainly, if we want to move towards excellence, our efforts should be spent on what we enjoy doing. If we want to be excellent in our careers, hopefully it is a career we enjoy getting out of bed for every day! If we want to excel in our relationships, let it be with someone we truly care about and who cares about us as well.

Also, thinking critically about what we want to achieve and having a plan is also part of achieving excellence: what are we striving for? What is the path towards it, and what steps need to be taken? And let’s not be afraid to modify or alter our plans as we move ahead; being adaptive is also a key to excellence. It’s knowing when to step back and reassess.

What habits, patterns or routines can we repeatedly do each day that will move us closer towards what we want to achieve: being an excellent lawyer, an excellent partner, an excellent parent? Is it reading one law journal article every day? Is it going out of our way to show gratitude towards our partner for something kind that they did for us? Is it spending time with our children every day, or boosting their confidence with a kind word?

Making our actions habit-forming: that’s the goal, and the way towards excellence. It is a journey, not a destination, with small steps along the way, and setbacks as well, but all ultimately bringing us towards our goals, and towards our own version of excellence.

Call to Action: What habit can you form today that will help you move towards your goals? As always, let me know your thoughts and results in the comments below.

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About the author

Denise Mortati

My legal coaching practice helps attorneys rediscover their passion and look forward every day to a fulfilling career. I do this through one-on-one, group and corporate coaching, using specialized techniques and practices that help to clarify goals and priorities, and balance work and personal time. I support clients in finding peace in their careers and within themselves. I’m also a practicing attorney in a solo practice, so I, too, am “walking the walk” with my clients! I feel that my life’s mission is to change the paradigm of what a law career is “supposed” to be. Contact me at denise@thejoyfullawyer.com or visit my website, thejoyfullawyer.com.

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