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The Habit Of Excellence

A few things in the past few weeks have come together in my mind to form a very strong impression of what I can only call excellence at St Benedict’s.

On Monday, 5 February, we were treated to some outstanding musical performances in the Music Festival final. There was seriously high level playing and singing in evidence, commented on by our very eminent adjudicator, who said he was amazed by the standard of musicality and performance on display.

The previous week, we experienced Mr Randall and Ms John’s superb production of Oliver! I confess to being blown away by the standard of performances, by the choreography and by the music. It’s invidious to single out individuals, but I must say that Angus McAllister and Kate Kenny’s performances as Fagin and Nancy respectively were jaw-droppingly good. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if we were to see them on a professional stage in the future, if they choose to follow that career path.

Just as aside here, perhaps the real hero of the production though was Inigo Bigland, who displayed enormous St Benedict’s spirit and courage in stepping into the breach to understudy for an injured fellow cast member, and did it brilliantly.

During the recent inspection I was privileged to witness a student debate of the very highest standard, in which the issue of the Elgin marbles – previously discussed in one of these assemblies – was passionately and skilfully debated.

On Saturday, 3 February, I watched the rugby 1st XV against Hampton, and even though we narrowly lost the standard of some of the handling in particular was incredible.

And on the following Monday, as we have heard, our 1st XI hockey girls came 5th in the country in the nationals. What an outstanding achievement!

Excellence, of the sort we have seen so many examples of in the last week, is a habit. If you display excellence it becomes your expectation and the norm, and you will not settle for anything less. It is also a habit, metaphorically speaking, in the other sense of the word, an item of clothing that you put on at the beginning of the day. You make a conscious choice to put on a habit of excellence.

My challenge to all of you is that you commit to excellence in everything you do. Every lesson, every rehearsal, every sports practice, every homework. The more you do it, the more it will become a habit and the more comfortably it will fit you, like a familiar item of clothing, so that eventually you achieve excellence without even realising you’re doing it. Don’t settle for second best in anything, or say to yourself that “good enough is good enough”. While we don’t want you to be arrogant, being the best is okay, if it’s done with humility. Aim for excellence in everything you do, as we have seen all these St Benedict’s students do in the last week.