Each year during the Christmas break, I bake pumpkin bread for my husband to take to his colleagues at work. Generally I do this joyfully, but I must admit that some years, when time is tight and other things seem more pressing, it feels like a chore. Several years ago I was having just such a pumpkin bread making experience. My to do list was long and my patience for mixing, measuring, pouring, cleaning up, and doing it all again was limited. As I finally made it to the last batch, I ran out of oil. Since I wasn’t operating in joy, it was also not so difficult for me to compromise the need for excellence. Having used half a cup of vegetable oil, I reached in the pantry and pulled out olive oil to round out the cup. Anyone who knows anything about baking and oils can imagine, as do I, that the final batch of pumpkin bread was far from excellent.
I still don’t know who got those loaves. It took me a couple of years to admit to my family what I’d done, and while we giggle about it, I still wonder who received the olive oil baked pumpkin bread, and if they consider me to be a terrible baker. In that moment, I was. I was also acting outside of my integrity. I knew the bread would look good. I also suspected it would not be good, but Randy would be happy to deliver it and I’d be done. This was, at its core, a dishonest act. When we act outside of our integrity, we generally have less than excellent results.
Each year during New Parent Plugin, we discuss this very thing with new parents. Anyone who has spent time in the satellite classroom knows the scene. The day has been busy. The load has seemed heavy. The school work has not come to a place of completion. The compromise happens. Mom or dad provide the answers to complete the task. Integrity slips and excellence in learning is lost for the day. The problem isn’t the momentary lapse of judgment, a single compromise of homework integrity. One lost day is minimal in view of thirteen years of education. The problem is found when a habit is formed. It is similar to the habit formed by an older student who repeatedly fails to complete and turn in homework. By emphasizing good habits at Logos Prep, we hope to lead to greater excellence in learning.
In his book Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey says, “Private victories precede public victories.” In my experience, one who walks in integrity will work in excellence. When we act inside our integrity, we are much more likely to produce with excellence. Integrity is the internal virtue and excellence is the external result.
You may find that while you work on excellence as an individual or family, you will also identity areas of integrity you’d like to shore up. Beginning our discussion on excellence as a core value of Logos Prep, I’d like to begin with the idea of habit. Consider reading Covey’s book. For teens, pick up Seven Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey.
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
Let us all resolve to begin 2019 with excellence.
Head of School
Logos Preparatory Academy
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