Christmas in Christ Chapel at Gustavus Adolphus College is excellence expressed as a value and an outcome. Photo: Gustavus Adolphus College.

Christmas in Christ Chapel at Gustavus Adolphus College is excellence expressed as a value and an outcome. Photo: Gustavus Adolphus College.

Alabama football. Harvard Business School. Christmas in Christ Chapel at Gustavus. Is excellence a value or an outcome?

Booker T Washington once wrote: Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.

Today, more than 350 student musicians and dancers are catching their breath and massaging sore muscles after four grueling rehearsals and five spectacular services – all in one week. Welcoming Christmas with music, song, poetry and dance is common.

What’s uncommon: producing Super Bowl Sunday quality five times in three days.

A family affair

Anna Batz and I shared the joy of the journey - her first year singing at Gustavus.

Anna Batz and I shared the joy of the journey – her first year singing at Gustavus.

Soprano Anna Batz was right in the mix. Her text message Sunday night to the “Batz Fam” included this homage: “I’m so glad that I have the chance to uphold such a wonderful tradition.”

Yes, the tradition includes celebrating Christmas in high style, in one of the top 100 chapels in America. Her mother and father, brother, sister and aunt invested their hearts in upholding the tradition. All by itself, that’s special!  But what she is really learning is how to appreciate “excellence.”

Rehearsals with high expectations and criticism and praise produce excellence.

Rehearsals with high expectations, criticism and praise produce excellence.

Commitment and expectations

Excellence means expecting more from yourself. Excellence is a value: dedication, commitment, practice and criticism. Repetition and frustration. And eventually joy! It means giving your heart to something far greater than you are yourself. How many times did we hear “That’s good! – now do it again.”  Do. It. Again. And again.

Excellence is also an outcome: admiration and satisfaction. Quality and humility.  Recalling how your palms sweat and stomach floats. How your eyes fly and throat sinks. When your heart soars, your soul smiles and joy flows from your aching lower back. There is no better feeling than to love what you produced – and remembering the sacrifice you made to get there.

Totally worth the exhaustion

The closing scene: O Come All ye Faithful.

The closing scene: O Come All Ye Faithful.

O come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant. O come ye to Bethlehem. Come and behold him, born the king of angels. O come let us adore him, Christ the Lord.

Today, I’m extremely grateful another Batz is continuing the 42 year tradition of Christmas in Christ Chapel. She knows her singing is an artful, faithful expression. We talked about how the Seven Fs are alive in the pursuits of excellence and how goodness pays when goodness is alive.

Good leaders find the pursuit of excellence alive in all their endeavors – personally and professionally.  And they appreciate the commitment, dedication, sacrifice and joy of a job well done.

We hope these pictures of Christmas in Christ Chapel are magnetic enough to encourage you to visit. Go to www.gustavus.edu for more information.

Please reply: In what ways do you feel excellence radiating around you?