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Hold Yourself to a Higher Standard

By: Brian Kim - May 11, 2007

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Hold yourself to a higher standard than what exactly?

You know. Higher than the norm. Higher than the average. In other words, higher than the standards of what most people really expect of themselves.

But it’s hard. I know. It’s easy to do the bare minimum by default. But we should all try to get in the habit of holding ourselves to a higher standard. Why?

Because only when you hold yourself to a higher standard can you really then stand out and take advantage of the opportunities that will inevitably be presented to you.

A perfect example is Honda. Honda holds itself to a higher standard when making its cars and its reputation for quality and dependability has given the company an edge over all automakers. But it didn’t happen over time.

Honda had to continually improve on quality, resist the temptation to cut corners, and as they shipped more and more cars and as consumers realized that Honda cars had fewer mechanical problems than the other cars, the fruits of Honda holding itself to a higher standard began to emerge.

Today, when you ask any person on the street what car company they think of when they want a dependable and reliable car for a great price, the majority will say Honda without blinking an eye. That reputation has more than made up for the sacrifices Honda put itself in the earlier stages when holding itself to a higher standard. Only time will be able to unveil the benefits of holding yourself to a higher standard.

The other half of holding yourself to a higher standard that is absolutely necessary is consistency. Honda had to be consistent in that aspect or it never would’ve garnered that reputation and it must continue to do so to protect it. But here’s the great part about that.

Because Honda was so consistent in holding itself to a higher standard of quality from the beginning, it continues to do so without effort. It has become the norm. They do it without thinking and the idea of lowering their standards never crosses their mind at all.

When you start holding yourself to a higher standard, you operate on an entirely different level and you begin to activate and improve the qualities of creativity, persistence, determination, and action - little by little. You engage your creativity to think of new ideas to meet your higher standards. You persist to meet your higher standards. You’re more determined to meet your higher standards. You take extra action to meet your higher standards. What all of this does, is begin to set off a whole new host of other qualities that all feed off one another and sharpen one another to elevate you to the next level.

Increasing the intensity of your workout. Doing more than what you’re paid for in your job. Paying more than average attention to your spouse and family.

They all intertwine whether you know it or not.

When you engage in this habit of holding yourself to a higher standard, you will begin to notice and feel like you are different from a lot of people and you are. Many people will see this newfound habit of yours and try to subtly discourage you from practicing it. Why do it they’ll ask. Why put in the extra time and effort? Just do the minimum. Take the easy way out. When you begin to hear these kinds of statements, know you are on the right path.

If you’re a reader of my blog, you know I don’t advocate a short-term quick fix. Gradual long term change is much more beneficial, but nobody wants the wait. Everybody wants it all right now.

Grow, stretch yourself, and reach for new heights just like plants do to soak up more sunlight. Raise your standards and climb the mountain and when you reach the plateau of a higher standard, walk forward and you’ll find a door that opens you up to a whole new world of possibilities.

Nobody ever sees the door when they are on the average plateau. They look up and see the high climb, but they can’t see the door because only those who climb and walk forward on the plateau of higher standards can see the door. The door doesn’t exist to those who hold themselves to average standards.

You’ll get to the point where you’ll automatically ask yourself what you can do in order to do more than the average. Once you get a taste of what happens when you do that, you will not want to go back. The effort you’ve made will have been well worth it and you will be willing to put in that same effort time and time again.

Imagine a world where everyone held themselves to a higher standard. Imagine how better we would serve one another. Imagine the technological advances we would have. Imagine how better life in general would be for all of us.

So look at the areas of your life and see where you can hold yourself to a higher standard. When you do find them, start setting the standards a little bit higher. Don’t get all gung ho and try to set the bar extremely high. You’ll never reach it because you were never trained to reach it in the first place. You should set your standards high little by little because that will train you to develop the other vital half of holding yourself to a higher standard - consistency.

Take pride in holding yourself to a higher standard. Nobody is forcing you to do it and that’s the beauty of it. It is entirely within you to do it.

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5 Responses to “Hold Yourself to a Higher Standard”

  1. Dream Walker Says:

    Beautiful article. I took a walk through the woods and brought a printout of this with me. It seems that we live in a society that does not foster these kind of ideas often enough. Consistency to a positive standard means success. And happiness. Or, at least, a lack of disappointment. Good job.

  2. Brian Kim Says:

    Hi Dream Walker,

    Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate it.

    I agree with you when you say this society doesn’t foster these kinds of ideas often enough. Imagine if it did though! What a world we would live in ;)

  3. 7 Ways to be Best Buds with an A-List Blogger! | Theres a Blog in my Soup: A Blog by Patrick Curl Says:

    […] You must hold yourself to a higher standard. […]

  4. Nancy Says:

    I understand the principle of holding to a higher standard, but it used to cause me such stress I would get physically ill around Christmas-time trying to create an atmosphere for my family that I believed to be a high standard.

    I’m retired now, my family grown, and I must say Christmas seems like an anachronism. My standards now are so low that I have not bought or decorated a tree for the three years since my husband died. This is a big relief and I feel detached from the frantic effort to make all things festive. Yet there is an element of guilt for not engaging in the chaos.

    Oh well - we can’t have everything…

  5. lauren Says:

    Nancy,
    My sister was the same way: she bought presents for everyone she knew so much in fact that one Christmas holiday she had so many gifts, they outdid the tree! I think though that the standard you were setting was more for your family than for you. No matter how we look at something I believe there has to be an element of self-interest in order to continue doing it. To do something with “nothing in it for you” is a sure fire way to experience burnout. Women are especially prone to this because we believe we are the heart of our family’s happiness. I hope you are at peace and let your family start creating the celebration; isn’t that what Christmas is all about? Love and Light

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