Secrets to Real Success – Don’t Lower Your Standards

By December 3, 2019Leadership

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve been privileged to know many successful people. Not all of them were “successful” by conventional standards, if you’re simply talking about net worth or square footage. But if you define success as making a positive, lasting difference with the one life you’ve been given – each of these folks would unquestionably successful.

As I’ve been able to watch and learn from these people, I’ve noticed they each share a set of common characteristics. Over the next few posts, I’ll unpack four of them:

  • They held higher standards.
  • They worked their values.
  • They had relational strength.
  • They refused to play the victim card.

Standards, Values, and Success

If you hold only low standards, then you will find yourself right in the middle of mediocre. If you settle in for too long, the mediocre middle becomes comfortable and cozy and harder to leave.

Successful people aren’t motivated by the lowest common denominator when it comes to honesty, integrity, and hard work. In fact, no one is really motivated by the lowest common denominator. If anything, following the lowest common denominator will deflate any hope of becoming successful.

On the other hand, if you don’t know what your standards are, then any old standard will do. In my coaching relationships with new clients, I often start by asking “what is most important to you?” What are the values you refuse to bend or compromise? Many people (adults, college-educated, talented, intelligent, etc.) have never taken the time to identify and clarify their values.

In general, when people have identified clear standards for themselves, the path forward becomes clearer, too. Clear standards take the guesswork out of certain decisions. A person who holds to the standard of honesty will see red flags if a potential employer talks about shortcuts or misrepresents something.

When you hold yourself to a higher standard, it will put you into a smaller category of people. At first, that may feel uncomfortable, even lonely. But here’s what successful people have found to be true:

When you run with the pack, it’s easier to get lost in the crowd. It’s also easier to get trampled.

Clear values and high standards aren’t found in a brainstorming session. They are forged through introspection, deep reflection, and personal convictions. While you can certainly adopt many of the practices of successful people, it is the internalization of their values that becomes the intangible difference.

Let me encourage you to carve out one or two days and do the deep work. Ask yourself questions like:

  • What matters most to me?
  • What must I always do?
  • What must I never do?
  • What kind of person do I want to be?
  • Do my actions reflect my deepest values?

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  • 25+ years of senior leadership experience
  • masters in management and leadership
  • presenter at the WFX National Conference
  • former president, Church Planters of the Rockies
  • helped start 2 for-profit tech companies

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