On Friday, SMUS Head Boy Jasper Johnston visited the Junior School and spoke during assembly. He spoke from the heart to the K-5 students about his experiences and his personal understanding of what excellence means.
by Head Boy Jasper Johnston
As many of you have learned over the past month, excellence is all about the journey – not the result. It is about trying your best, not being the best.
There are many different types of excellence: athletic, academic, personal, inter-personal, to name a few. Each is important in its own way and is achievable for all of you.
When I was told I would be speaking about excellence, I thought back to the virtues I learned about when I was at the Junior School and I realized that excellence can be broken down into three other virtues:
The first is Determination. It’s about trying your best and working hard, even when a task is difficult. Whether you are studying for a spelling or math test, or training to score the winning goal, it is important to stay focused and determined.
The second is Compassion. By having compassion for, and by being friendly to, those around you, including your teachers, parents and peers, you can build amazing, long-lasting friendships. You can improve the lives of those around you.
Finally, Excellence. This is ultimately about self-confidence and having the confidence to stand up for what you believe in. If you believe in something, whether it be the environment, your school, your instrument or your sport, and you keep working to improve it, even if others are doubting you, you are demonstrating excellence.
Now, as many of you will know, when you are in Grade 5 and you walk across the stage at closing ceremonies, you are given a virtue that your teachers feel represents you. When I was in Grade 5, I was given the virtue of excellence. At the time, I did not know the full meaning of the virtue, but was very proud to have received it. After I read through what excellence means – how it is all about striving for personal growth and about trying your best, not being the best – I worked to apply the virtue even more to my life. Whenever I could I would push my self-expectations higher and try to improve at whatever it was I was doing. I also realized that an important part of exhibiting excellence was helping others to achieve excellence. Assisting them with their goals and encouraging them to work towards them.
Now, a long time ago in Ancient Greece there was a great thinker named Aristotle. He said that “Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” This means that excellence takes time, commitment and passion. It is not easy to always try your hardest, and keep working away at something when it is difficult, but it makes all the difference in the long run.
While Aristotle’s quote may be true, excellence can start with a single act. So what I would love for you all to remember as you leave assembly today is that you are bursting with potential. Excellence will come with time, and maybe, just maybe, it will start with something you do today.
(photo by Gordon Chan)