Don’t just set goals, set standards.
While it is of the utmost importance to set goals in order to give our business and personal lives direction and purpose, it is equally important that we have standards. Much in the way that goals clarify purpose and determine direction for our intent, energy and effort, standards provide guidance as to the character and quality for our activity in the pursuit of those goals.
Now some of us may have some ‘best practices’ in place for our business, but how consistently do we adhere to them? I once heard a colleague telling a client that something she was proposing to do for him was ‘best practices,’ but not required. While I understand why she said this to him, it made me think of how we can sometimes allow ourselves to accept a lesser standard for our performance and ethics than our ‘best practices’ call for, if we have any.
I’m not saying that we have to be robots in pursuit of some illusion of perfection in how we do everything. However, over the years I have come to believe that sometimes we allow ourselves to observe lower standards because the truth is that we’re pursuing success, not greatness. This, in turn, I suspect, is why so many fail to be successful.
Perhaps not every contract, assignment or project is going to be carried out with the precision and beauty of a concert given by a seasoned orchestra, but I submit for your consideration that at least in some small way we ought to make the pursuit of greatness part of everything we do, if only to make that pursuit and the diligent effort it requires a habit so deeply entrenched that it becomes part of our character. With so many things in life and business being a ‘numbers game,’ it behooves us to make a habit of excellent effort so that when the golden opportunity presents itself, it is not missed because of a lack of diligence or vigilance arising from what basically amounts to intellectual laziness on our part.
With that said, my challenge to you today is to take some time to evaluate the standards you’ve set for yourself, because they are not merely the guidelines for your performance, they are also the measure by which we may also give ourselves permission to be less than what we could be.
Yours in the pursuit of greatness,