We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) Greek philosopher
Nicomachean Ethics (c. 350 BC) (paraphrase)

Variants: "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." "We are what we repeatedly do, therefore excellence is not an act, but a habit."

Not actually Aristotle, but a summary by  Will Durant,  The Story of Philosophy: The Lives and Opinions of the World's Greatest Philosophers (1926), ch. II "Aristotle and Greek Science," Part VII "Ethics and the Nature of Happiness" (1926):
Excellence is an art won by training and habituation: we do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have these because we have acted rightly; 'these virtues are formed in man by his doing the actions'; we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit: 'the good of man is a working of the soul in the way of excellence in a complete life... for as it is not one swallow or one fine day that makes a spring, so it is not one day or a short time that makes a man blessed and happy.'"
The quoted phrases are from the Nicomachean Ethics, Book 2, ch. 4; Book 1, ch. 7.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Jun-17
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