This article is not about your company’s standards. It’s not about your department’s standards or your team’s standards. This article is not even about what others expect of you. My sole purpose for this article is to write to you…about you. This will be about your own expectations and standards of yourself. How high are your standards? I’ve learned that the true benchmark of success is not who I can surpass, but how consistently I am reaching and exceeding my own high standards.
Now and then
Anyone can reach or accomplish anything every now and then. However, “every now and then” doesn’t count. Consistency counts. Consistency demands perseverance, patience and passion. Even when I don’t feel like it, consistency has to win. Even when I’m not in the mood, consistency has to win. Even when I am tired, consistency has to win. Otherwise, I have no right to expect anyone else to see value in me. I must see value in myself first. Consistently.
Just recently my family and I went out for dinner. The restaurant we went to had a good reputation, especially for its food. The server greeted us and took our orders. Beyond that, however, she was largely non-existent. This was especially true when it came to keeping us updated. Both the appetizers and entrees took extra long. Noticeably long. Now obviously, I am not blaming her for the food delays. After all, she was not cooking the food (plus, I could see the cooks since it was an open kitchen). Instead of keeping us informed, she was socializing with her co-workers. Instead of clearing the table, she was standing around. The food was great, but the inattentiveness of the server put a damper on the experience. Initially, I was annoyed at the manager for not properly training her and ensuring that she was ready to serve guests. After all, staff performance is tied to leader expectations, right? Right?!?
Not so fast
Then, my thoughts shifted to our server. Our nice, but inattentive and apathetic server. I wondered about her standards. Did she have standards for herself and how she approached her job? Did she understand how valuable she was born to be? Did it occur to her that she was not merely put on Earth to fulfill a “job”, but to be exceptional at something?
More than anything, I want my children to know that they were born to be exceptional at something. And when they find it, my prayer is that they will have the gratitude and tenacity to mold those exceptional gifts into strengths that can be used to bless others.
Standards or suggestions?
Having a standard should be a standard. Standards are not easily tossed aside or broken. Standards ought to be non-negotiable. In fact, a standard that can be broken is not really a standard…it’s just a suggestion. And I believe that it is immoral to hold someone accountable for not following a “suggestion”.
As a line employee, I always strived to have higher standards than my managers could ever have of me. With every complaint, I brought forth a suggestion. With every suggestion, I volunteered to help implement it. With every implementation, I offered to see it through until it was successful.
That was when I was a line employee.
The only thing “special” about my circumstances was that I chose to work for a company that valued me enough to solicit (and accept) my input. No one is a victim. You get to choose where you work, and I implore you to find a place that deserves you. The best of you. That, by itself, is a standard. Only work for a company that you believe in. So carefully and meticulously create personal standards, model those standards and stand for those standards. Stand for them everyday, keep them high everyday, and serve with excellence everyday.