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  • Writer's picturercputz

What was a big deal for Aristotle should be for us too


Getting to the root cause was a big deal to Aristotle. The concept Occam’s razor You might remember from your philosophy or science classes—the idea that the simplest explanation is the most likely one? Well, Occam enhanced and promoted the Aristotelian root cause analysis and called it “Occam’s Razor.

 This is the old phrase about keeping things simple, the key to proper order, especially when we are first in our life or business establishing the foundation of that order. The way we do this in life is we keep things simple by shrinking them. In other words, we start with the GENERAL or UNIVERSAL and move to the SPECIFIC or PARTICULAR. In other words, we are creating patterns in our life. Our task in creating order is the art of translating significant target outcomes into small—even tiny—behaviors that serve us well and make sense. Making change little, safe, and do-able makes change easy. Framing the objective one little, particular habit at a time.


When it comes to that time in our lives or the life cycle of our business, and realize that what once worked well seems to be not working as planned, or is causing more grief and frustration, we start to understand that change is necessary. But what is happening now is a brand new learning experience. We come to realize that in our life cycle, it is not only ‘me‘ who has to learn and change but all those around me. The focus is on new education, understanding, and acceptance, but most of all, unlearning, too. To these ends, Aristotle knew that to produce “good and virtuous citizens for the polis,” he needed to foster proper discipline and methods of formation—and habit-breaking, too—in his very systematic approach to teaching.

In the world of Aristotle, virtue is practical (the goodness in our case being awareness) and that the purpose of the greater good is to become competent, not merely to know. This is what Aristotle called Eudaimonia. Aristotle knew that to bring about the necessary change and the focus on the objective truth and reality, you would have to build step by step the behaviors that would ultimately lead to the desired outcome and the necessary change in the current situation.

Education and Collaboration are engaging learners in ways that they will appreciate as relevant, useful, and worthwhile—even within the narrow contexts of their specific job functions. It is in the awareness of education that one becomes self-motivating. 


While Education and Collaboration are an essential component of a change, it’s rarely sufficient on its own to bring about real behavior change that will be ongoing and lasting. As we all learned from decades of being in the educational system, just passing a test does not automatically translate into know-how and action. The fact is our behaviors must be developed and fostered, not only taught. This is a process of ongoing improvement. And that takes practice and persistence. This is why Aristotle relied upon repetition as a key to developing good habits. In college in our study hall, there was engraved on the center wall the words: “Repetitio est mater memoriae,” and that is the key to sustainability in learning and behavior.

Change does not sit; still, it is a continuous process of building—and sustaining—excellence. The ongoing reinforcement phase, we call “reorder” is crucial to maintaining the difference.

There’s one other vital aspect in ensuring the success of your behavior change initiative. The leadership around you must not only endorse the desired behavior but model it, too. As Aristotle said, “He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” Only then can you begin to bring about a culture of ongoing improvement and awareness. I like to say, “Change is healthy for the soul,” but only when you know where you’re going and why it’s worth it.”

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