Career | Habits | Learning | Personal Growth | Philosophy | Productivity | Stoicism

Excellence Is The Next Five Minutes

“Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. It’s the quality of your next five-minute conversation. It’s the quality of, yes, your next email. Forget the long term. Make the next five minutes rock!” – Tom Peters

“It is a simple two-step process: Decide the type of person you want to be. Prove it to yourself with small wins.” – James Clear

“The work is quite feasible, and is the only thing in our power. . . . Let go of the past. We must only begin. Believe me and you will see.” – Epictetus

It’s easy to get bogged down in strategy and planning. It’s a form of busywork that makes you feel productive even when you aren’t really moving forward. I’ve struggled with this over the years, and it’s fair to say I still haven’t mastered time. Then again, who ever does? But focusing on the action needed right now, with an eye towards maintaining our overall course, makes a lot of sense.

Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. The point isn’t to master time, just to win the next five minutes. What we do now matters more than what we do tomorrow. Setting a course is important; we all need to know where the we’re going or what’s the point? But right behind that is meaningful action. The Tom Peters quote is a favorite call to action because it reminds us of the urgency of now. Peters’ quote pairs well with James Clear’s work, and both quotes would be very familiar to stoics like Epictetus. Ultimately we all build off the legacy of those who came before, and hope to leave something meaningful for those who come after.

I’m posting late today, watching the sun dropping in the west while I write instead of feeling it rise behind me as the morning progresses. I wanted to sit on this post awhile, feeling there’s more to say. There’s always more you can say, and always more to improve upon, isn’t there? But you also need to ship when it’s time to ship, a necessary call to action that keeps us from sitting on our work. And so it is that I’ve checked a few boxes today knowing I could’ve done more but generally happy with what I’ve done with the time I’ve been given today. Let’s call that a small win (and, always, work to go a step further if I’m blessed with the gift of tomorrow).

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