The Ingredient of Excellence

Winston-Churcholl-quote-about-perseveranceWho would actually be interested in knowing the mundane details of another person’s daily life? Well, I do. I do, especially if that person is remarkable, someone who has made astounding achievements in their lifetime. I do, especially if that person is a writer, a musician – someone whose creativity is celebrated, commemorated and revered for years, and many more years to come. I have always found it very fascinating to know how these people manage to find time to work on their creations. Just how did they do it?

It is for these reasons that I bought a copy of Daily Rituals by Mason Currey. It is a book that tells us everything about what great minds like Hemingway or Beethoven do daily. We have all heard about the geniuses of these people, and I have always wondered just how they achieved it.

Someone once said to me: we are all given 24 hours a day, and how we manage these hours is entirely in our hands. When I first heard this, it seemed to make a lot of sense. In fact, I started ascribing my not having to achieve much over the years to my incapability of time management. It sounded like the winning formula: better time management equals achieving goals. However, as I reflected on this philosophy, it seemed to sound a tad too unfair. Time could be really difficult to grasp, often slipping away; before we realise it, it is gone.

Aristotle quote about excellency being a habitDaily Rituals, therefore, is the kind of book that throws light on this riddle. Having read about how Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Henry James and Joyce Carol Oates managed their time, I got inspired to design a timetable where every hour of my day will be designated to a certain task. I proudly showed it my husband to assess its plausibility.

He said it looked all promising, which resulted in my daydreaming about all the great things I would achieve with the help of my brainchild. However, the bright and sunshiny picture soon began to turn grey as something loomed large. Hang on, haven’t I tried something similar before? It was, then, that I recalled the time when I had planned for a day, which was so systematically filled with tasks to be accomplished by the hour, only to have them utterly ruined at the end of it. My day was hijacked, bounded and wrecked by one treacherous thing or another.

"When yo want to succeed as much as you want to breath, that's when you will be successful" So, what was missing from the formula? I soon discovered that time management is one thing, but the determination to keep to it is quite another. The main ingredient of getting things done has much to do with perseverance, together with how much we desire it. All the acclaimed individuals featured in Daily Rituals, have one ─ and only one ─ thing in common. It is not just about how well they have managed their time, how fanciful their timetables have been designed, but how badly they have desired to be successful.

Humans are known to be creatures of habits; therefore, to have a daily routine is still necessary for me. However, in order for things to work, the will to succeed is much more imperative. Magna opera are the direct consequence of perseverance and the desire to achieve excellence. With this, I think that time management will fall into place, and success will follow.

Tiffany is studying the BA English in Singapore.

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