Written by Joe Carella, Psy. D., Licensed Psychologist, Certified CEO Effectiveness Executive Coach in Success Through Self-Knowledge

I have seen, Aristotle’s quote, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit”, plastered on walls in professional and college athletic facilities. In fact, it is an inspirational quote that I too have used with athletes and business leaders alike with great frequency.   However, it wasn’t until I heard Clint Bruce, retired Navy SEAL and NFL player, describe the characteristics that differentiate people who are excellent from those who are elite that I ever questioned how the quote might be limiting! Bruce identifies curiosity as an essential characteristic of the Elite. When I read Dr. Bill Anton’s blog post, Gain Inside Advantage MonthI began to wonder if Aristotle’s habits of excellence might actually contribute to the 99% undeveloped potential to which Dr. Anton refers.

Could habitually being excellent actually prevent us from being elite?

Clint Bruce identifies curiosity as one of the five characteristics of the Elite. Bruce would say that being the first to raise your hand, to ask and want to know why things work the way they do is an undeniable characteristic of those who are Elite. Then it all clicked, self-knowledge and the desire to fully understand who we are is not possible without curiosity. To become our true self is not possible without curiosity. That untapped potential will be discovered and utilized only if we begin to ask more questions and fend off satisfaction with what we already know – even if we are excellent.

Consider asking yourself questions like these:

When did I develop these belief?

Why does this frustrate me so much?

What led me to see myself as I do?

Who said I can’t do this?

How can I begin to see my potential more fully?

I would be crazy to criticize Aristotle. So I will assume that he would put curiosity at the top of his list of habits of excellence. He was kind of Elite after all!

So my final question is this:

Is there a better time to challenge ourselves to develop the habit of being deeply curious about ourselves, to seek more of our true self than during Gain Inside Advantage Month?

I’m just curious.