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Moderation, in philosophical terms, is the art of balance between two extremes.

It first came into popular usage as an ethical term because of the writings of Aristotle.

In his influential Nicomachean ethics, Aristotle prescribes a way whereby an individual can easily ensure that he or she is behaving in the most moral and rational manner possible at any given time.

Although it’s not a hard and fast formula, the basic idea is that every vice has two extreme forms, the vice of detriment and the vice of excess.

For example, if we look at money, we have the vice of being too stingy at one end of the spectrum, and the vice of spending too freely at the other.

In between is the happy medium, or the “golden mean” as the Greeks called it.

Excellence is an art won by training and habituation…We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit. – Aristotle

By actively pursuing this golden mean, we can achieve moral excellence in our lives. The same goes for our businesses. Every day, you must struggle to cultivate the habits of excellence.

How do you view your habits – honestly, and create new ones?

As you choose the moderate path time and time again, you will soon find that your business naturally gravitates towards those profitable and safer middle paths that are ultimately the route to long term lasting gain.

Obverse of the Series 2006 $20 bill
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Can you deal with money?

If you don’t believe that habit has anything to do with the ability to wisely handle large sums of money or making large sums of money, just take a look at lottery winners.

Generally speaking, poorer people play the lottery, because they have the most to gain by winning. When they win millions of dollars, it has a profound impact upon their lives. They’re able to do just about anything they want after a lifetime of crushing restriction and hardship. Sadly, over half of all lottery winners end up penniless within just a few years. Why is that? It’s simply that they didn’t have the habits of wise spending that people who grew up with lots of money are likely to have.

Don’t let the habit of immoderate behavior be your pitfall. Each day, in each action, ask yourself if you are pursuing that ideal golden mean between the two vicious extremes, and you will soon cultivate the unassailable habit of greatness.

Examining Your Habits

If excellence is a habit, then we can treat it like any other habit. If we pay conscious attention to what we do in a given day, such as by recording our actions in a journal, then we very quickly become aware of things that we do as a matter of course or habit. Often, habits are our undoing, and we’re not even aware of them.

By constantly auditing our behavior for costly habits that don’t tend towards the golden mean of moderation, we can nip problems in the bud before they develop and escalate into something unmanageable. It’s all about conscious awareness of our behavior, and then taking conscious steps to make that behavior more virtuous. So a journal isn’t a bad idea at this stage of the game.

Business Decisions

Another good idea is to avoid the extremes in your business decisions or advertising initiatives. Be sure that you don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to go after every demographic possible. By the same token, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, or pin all your hopes on one product or ad campaign. Instead, cultivate diversity in your products and demographics so that you have some market flexibility.

What action steps could you take today?


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