Aristotle said… Excellence

I announced on Facebook that I was doing a giveaway with today’s blog. You could be a lucky winner! Stick with me. The giveaway information is coming.

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Excellence. What does that mean for you? Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.”

I would like to believe what Aristotle said, but doesn’t sit well with me. As a child, I learned to play the piano. I took lessons until I graduated from high school. Now the only time my fingers click keys is when I start practicing in October to play carols at Christmas. Otherwise, my piano goes unused. I had a habit, but excellence never arrived.

My Japanese mother believes every child has a gift and that it is the duty of the parents to discover it, then kill the child with practice. What does my Irish-Cajun father think? All is well, as long as I’m having a good time. Cajuns find any excuse to party, and I’m excellent at planning parties.

Gulbransen Piano (This is not my piano, but mine is very similar. This is a 1928 Gulbransen from the Antique Piano Shop. Mine came out of an estate sale.)

I admit piano practice got me out of after dinner kitchen cleanup for a while. However, the fact of the matter is, no matter how much I practiced, for how many years, no matter how “excellent” my teachers were, piano practice did not prove me with the excellence to achieve concert pianist status. In other words, practice didn’t produce talent.

Now for my quandary. What does all of this mean for my other goals and dreams?

I selected psychology as my first major in college. After my first three psych classes, especially after I took Childhood Development, I switched to Business. Why? The honest truth—if I were ever faced with a child abuse case, I’d probably have to kill somebody. At least in business, I could take someone down legally. Which subconsciously may have lead me to a career in insurance litigation…but that’s matter for Freud to determine.

All the while, my desire, my urge to write burned in my gut. I squirreled many stories, many “starts” in a box. About five years ago, I decided I had to quell the fire burning in my gut and made writing my life.

Quell the fire? Boy was I wrong. The fire didn’t dampen or diminish, it only grew stronger.

Now I wonder, will I achieve excellence in my writing? Does habit reveal talent? I think before I am able to answer, I have to first define what excellence means to me while I continue to learn my craft. I still love writing.

In Bayou Born, Branna Lind set out to discover if she had the makings of excellence to handle the job handed to her by her family.

So now I want to know—Do you have excellence in your life?

Camera Dump 8 21 13 007Leave me a note and share with me. I’m collecting comments from now until Sunday. Then one lucky person will be a winner of a prize—a celebration for their excellence. The prize? An eBook of Bayou Born and SWAG: pen, book card, and a special necklace with a Fleur de Lis charm.

Winner to be announced next week.

So once again, tell me where you have excellence in your life. Go!

Happy Reading!

Linda Joyce


About Linda Joyce

Writing is a curious journey. You don't pick it, it picks you. See my website at to learn more about me.
This entry was posted in Authentic Living, Creativity, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

22 Responses to Aristotle said… Excellence

  1. When you are your authentic self and use your God given gifts/talents to your best ability, to enhance your life and the lives of others, you have achieved and are achieving excellence in your life . I believe that I am doing that .

  2. Hi again, Linda. I loved hearing about your love-hate relationship with piano playing. I’ve gone through something similar with the violin. I was a fair violinist. Won me a few thirds, seconds and even one first in state music contests and first chair two years in a row in high school, but I never really “felt” the passion I needed to truly express myself through music. After high school, I packed my violin case away and haven’t returned to it since. I’m doing better with my writing, but like you, I have to keep “practicing.” As far as excellence is concerned, the closest I’ve come is with my children and grandchildren. None of us are perfect, but they’ve all turned out pretty darned great. I’d like to think I had something to do with that.

    Barbara Barrett

    • Linda Joyce says:


      I learned something new about you! Maybe we could start have a duet of “what not to do” for violin and piano.

      Ah…a mother’s love. So wonderful!

      Thank you for your note.



  3. reneeregent says:

    I think excellence comes in flashes. It is always flowing, always moving. It shows up in the small things as well as the grand. Sometimes, unfortunately, it goes unrecognized. Ultimately, doing your best is a form of excellence. Another great post, Linda!

  4. Jackie Rod says:

    Thanks for a great post, Linda.
    The road to excellence begins with one step. The first step is always the hardest. In order to climb a mountain, we must focus and continue to move toward our goal. There will always be bumps in the path to slow down our progress. But our passion to excel will guide us toward achievement.
    Helen Hayes said, “Always aim for achievement and forget about success.” Jackie Rod would say, “Excellence is a personal thing, and there is always room at the top of that mountain.”

  5. Linda, Your post really resonated with me. As a child, I took a few years of piano lessons, but never came close to “excelling.” As an adult, I determined much of that failure was due to lack of dedication and practice. So I resumed lessons and practiced long and faithfully. Guess what? Still never got beyond playing a few songs moderately well. It was then that I determined we are given natural talents and abilities to develop and apparently piano playing wasn’t mine. I think when we insist everyone can do something equally well if they just work hard, we diminish the value of God-given gifts and the individual. A better approach is to believe that everyone does something well. We should find that “something” for ourselves and then practice, practice, practice!

    • Linda Joyce says:

      Dee Dee,

      Thank you for sharing your piano journey with me. You know my pain. 🙂

      I agree, we must all seek to find not only what we do well, but what also brings us joy. I am practicing my writing craft every day.



  6. Robena Grant says:

    I’m all for following your heart. If you love what you’re doing it will show.
    Don’t put me in the drawing as I already have the book. Thanks. : )

  7. I just lost a double-first cousin last year who loved to play the piano and sing. I agree with you Linda that if you put your heart into something, the love will certainly show. I am most proud of my son and grandson, who love me unconditionally. I also love reading and reviewing books!

    • Linda Joyce says:


      I am sorry to hear of your loss. It’s nice that you have a wonderful memory to carry you through missing your cousin. And, experiencing unconditional love is probably one of the greatest gifts we can receive. I’m happy to put your name in the mix for the book and the bling!


      Linda Joyce

  8. Mina Gerhart says:

    Hi Linda 🙂
    Congrats on Bayou Born, the quick blurb is cool.
    I know the piano routine, I had 7 YEARS of lessons while I was in school. After 7 years my piano teacher advised me to stick to singing (hmmm 🙂 ) 40 years later I still sing non-professionally in my church choir, Andhulhea community chorus, 2 local theater groups and anywhere anyone wants me to sing & LOVE every minuite of it. My toughts are that excellence goes beyond habit to adapting to a situation.

    Mindy 🙂

    • Linda Joyce says:


      Thanks for sharing your piano story, 🙂 I once picked singing with the choir over a ballet recital. That ended my ballerina days. I was thrilled!



  9. Linda Joyce says:

    I have a Winner! I’ve sent a message to confirm with that person that’s it is okay to announce the name. More info coming!

    Linda Joyce

  10. Pingback: Aristotle « Greg J Barber

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