Aristotle Quotes About Self-Discipline

Aristotle’s quotes about self-discipline reveal a nuanced understanding of virtue, habits, and the Golden Mean, providing great career insight.

Exploring Aristotle’s quotes about self-discipline reveals a nuanced understanding of virtue, habits, and the Golden Mean, providing a nuanced framework for navigating the intricacies of our professional lives. The venerable ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle left behind a trove of insightful reflections on self-discipline encapsulated in his eloquent quotes.


Self-Discipline Pyramid by Rick Cecil

While “self-discipline” may not have been explicitly coined by him, Aristotle’s timeless aphorisms, exemplified by statements like “Excellence is the result of habitual practice,” resonate profoundly in personal and professional development.

Self-discipline is the capacity to control one’s impulses, emotions, and actions to pursue long-term goals and adhere to personal values. It involves making conscious choices that align with one’s principles, even in the face of challenges or temptations. It is essential for personal growth, achievement, and overall well-being and encompasses delaying gratification, maintaining focus, and persevering through difficulties.

Let’s unravel the motivational potential inherent in Aristotle’s quotes on self-discipline, discerning how they can inspire and propel individuals toward excellence in their career pursuits. But before we get into Aristotle’s quotes on self-discipline, we must give context to the man himself and what he meant by the Golden Mean.

Who was Aristotle?


Aristotle, born in 384 BCE in Stagira, ancient Greece, is one of the most influential philosophers in Western history. A Plato student and Alexander the Great’s teacher, Aristotle made profound contributions to various disciplines, including ethics, metaphysics, politics, theatre, music, and natural sciences. 

His works, including “Nicomachean Ethics” and “Politics,” explore fundamental questions about human nature, morality, and governance. Aristotle’s method of inquiry, emphasizing observation and empirical evidence, laid the foundation for scientific thinking. His legacy continues to endure through his vast body of writings, which shape philosophical and scientific discourse, making him a pivotal figure in intellectual history.

What does Aristotle explain with the Golden Mean?

The Golden Mean, a concept attributed to Aristotle, represents a philosophical principle advocating moderation and balance in human behaviour. It suggests that virtue lies between extremes, emphasizing the importance of finding a middle ground between excess and deficiency. Rather than endorsing extremes, the Golden Mean encourages individuals to navigate a path of equilibrium and harmony in their actions and choices.

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6 Aristotle Quotes on Self-Discipline

Aristotle Quotes About Self-Discipline | The School of Athens by Raphael

“What it lies in our power to do, it lies in our power not to do.”


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


“Well begun is half done.”


“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self.”


“Through discipline comes freedom.”


“We become just by the practice of just actions, self-controlled by exercising self-control, and courageous by performing acts of courage.”


6 Aristotle Insights on Self-Discipline

Aristotle and Plato in The School of Athens by Raphael

Aristotle’s insights on self-discipline, as outlined in his work “Nicomachean Ethics,” offer valuable principles that can significantly contribute to achieving career goals. Here’s how we can apply his teachings in our careers:

  1. Virtue and Excellence (Arete):

    In the professional realm, cultivating virtues such as integrity, diligence, and responsibility is crucial. These virtues contribute to an excellent work ethic and help individuals balance their professional conduct. For instance, maintaining honesty in business dealings and demonstrating a solid work ethic can enhance one’s reputation and career prospects.

  2. Habituation (Ethos):

    Developing disciplined work habits is essential for career success. Aristotle’s emphasis on habituation suggests that consistently making choices aligned with professional virtues leads to forming positive work habits. This can include regularly meeting deadlines, being proactive, and continuously improving one’s skills to stay relevant in the workplace.

  3. Golden Mean:

    Professionally, finding the Golden Mean involves avoiding extremes. Striking a balance between being too rigid and too lax can impact career relationships, teamwork, and leadership. Effective leaders, for example, demonstrate assertiveness without being overly controlling, fostering a collaborative and productive work environment.

  4. Reason and Rationality:

    Applying reason and rationality to career decisions involves thoughtful planning and strategic thinking. Making choices based on long-term career goals, rather than succumbing to short-term desires, contributes to a more deliberate and successful career path. This may involve pursuing additional education, seeking mentorship, or taking calculated career risks.

  5. Ends and Goals (Telos):

    Understanding one’s ultimate career goals and aligning actions accordingly is critical. Setting clear professional objectives and consistently working towards them can lead to a more fulfilling and purposeful career. Regularly evaluating whether current actions contribute to long-term career aspirations is essential for maintaining focus and direction.

  6. Pleasure and Pain:

    Aristotle’s acknowledgment of human motivation by pleasure and pain is relevant in career contexts. Self-discipline entails delaying immediate gratification, such as avoiding procrastination or short-term rewards, in favour of long-term career success. This might involve investing time and effort into skill development or tackling challenging projects for future advancement.

Incorporating Aristotle’s principles of virtue, habits, the Golden Mean, reason, ends and goals and the relationship between pleasure and pain can significantly enhance one’s self-discipline and contribute to a successful and fulfilling career. By applying these philosophical principles to professional development, individuals can make more informed and intentional choices that align with their career objectives.

What are your favourite self-discipline quotes? Do you find you need help with self-discipline?


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Posted by Rose Lagacé

Rose Lagacé is a production designer for film & television by day and an emerging filmmaker by night. Rose is also the creator and editor of Art Departmental where she celebrates the art and craft of production design.

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