Wiehann de Klerk
Raise Your Standards
How to get more out of life: The power of demanding better outcomes.
Not setting standards can lead to a life of confusion. A lack of standards is similar to a lack of vision - you don't know what is good or what is bad. Setting standards, in and of itself, enables you to visualise the platform on which you want to want to stand. Do you want to be on top of mountains or sit on the park bench? You decide your future by setting your standards. If you are going to set standards, why set low ones? Set high standards and elevate the platform on which you want to stand.
Never lower your standards to accommodate others in your life that have lower standards. Pull them up to your level, don't reduce your standards to meet with them. One of two things will happen in life. You can get pulled down by others to meet them at their level, or you can refuse to be pulled down, and instead, try to help pull them up; encouraging them to grow and develop. In other words, you are either easily persuaded and led astray, or you are a leader of your life. Someone that is capable of leading their own life is capable of leading others. You cannot lead others if you are not able to lead yourself. When you raise your standards, you are taking leadership over your life. You are casting a vision of greatness. People will consider you a leader due to your ability to take the higher ground. Those that wish to learn will come to you asking for advice, wisdom and/or mentoring. They will give you their hand that you might pull them up. Don't get pulled down.
"When you raise your standards, you are taking leadership over your life. You are casting a vision of greatness."
Success is not possible when you don't raise your standards. Consider the video game Sonic. As a child, I would always play it when I visited my grandparents. There are over ten levels in the game. After the completion of a new level, you raise your standards and decide to attempt another. Over time, you get better at the game. You don't complete the first level and stop there. You raise your standards. A lot of times, we lower our standards when the action required outnumbers our current perceived ability (self-belief). If I didn't believe that I was able to beat the next level, would I have raised my standards? No, I would have settled for less. Let's say an inventor needs $1m to commercialise his prototype and take it globally. If he doesn't believe he can raise $1m, he will lower his standards. He will work to the standards that are consistent with his beliefs. If he decides and believes that he can only raise $100k, then he will lower his standards and sell his product locally instead of globally. To set high standards, you must change your beliefs. You must believe that the impossible is possible. A world without high standards would be a world without the likes of Martin Luther King Jr, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and Abraham Lincoln. Lowering your standards is always the easiest thing to do. However, settling for less embarks you on a journey that undermines your capacity - the inventor could have raised $1m, but instead chose the easier route and lowered his standards. The undermining of your capacity ultimately leads to the destruction of the future you desired - the inventor could have sold his product globally. Every single one of us, at some point in our lives, has decided to settle for less; ultimately undermining our capacity to make a difference to our lives or even the lives of others. At those times in your life when you lower your standards, it might seem like a small decision in the moment, but it echoes into eternity.
"We lower our standards when the action required outnumbers our current perceived ability (self-belief)."
Imagine for a moment, what the world would be like if Arnold Schwarzenegger lowered his standards, or if Nelson Mandela had decided to lower the standard he saw for his nation. Would they have been as influential as they have been if they had lowered their standards? Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for nearly 27 years and was released from jail in 1990. Soon thereafter, he became the President of South Africa. During his 27-year prison sentence, he not once showed hatred towards the whites that imprisoned him. He refused to undermine his potential or capacity to uphold his standards. He was the first black head of state, and he dismantled the apartheid legacy by fostering racial reconciliation. Arnold Schwarzenegger displayed an ability to raise his standards continually throughout his life. He refused to listen to anyone that didn't believe in him or thought he lacked the ability to meet his goals. He looked at his standards and respected them as his pathway to a range of achievements. His first achievement was to be a bodybuilder. He became Mr Olympia and remained so for seven years. He didn't lower his standards after this achievement. Instead he asked himself, what's next? He raised the bar again and decided to become an actor. His tenacity brought us one of the greatest action movies ever, called Terminator and he became renowned for the famous term, "I'll be back." Was this enough? No! He decided to get into politics and became the governor of California. He lives out the "I'll be back" term - he always comes back hitting harder than before. Never lower your standards. Instead, increase your standards and unleash your capacity.
"Settling for less embarks you on a journey that undermines your capacity. The undermining of your capacity ultimately leads to the destruction of the future you desired."
Lowering your standards not only impacts your future but also, in many cases, affects the potential of a nation or the earth itself. Yes, that's right, you can change the world. Don't you dare undermine your potential. There is not one other person in the world like you. No one has your DNA. You have something special you can bring to the table. However, if you lower your standards, then you're not even at the table.
Many years ago, when I was studying Business at University, I decided to raise my standards - I worked very hard in the first year. The first year of hard work and effort enabled me to join the Advanced Leadership Business Degree. This degree opened up many doors including leadership opportunities, overseas study trips, internships and public speaking engagements. If I didn't raise my standards, I would have missed out on all those experiences, and may not even be the man I am today. To live a life of high standards requires you to be constant, never give up and have the confidence to follow through. In other words, you must be persistent, relentless and courageous. Another example is my friend, Tim. He decided to never lower his standards when it came to finding love. His standards were very high and increased year by year as he improved his mindset, beliefs and career pathways. He wanted a woman that was gorgeous, smart, Christian and willing to travel the world with him. When he turned 35, he realised he was getting older, and naturally, he started to worry. However, he was adamant and knew that it's better to be single with high standards than in a relationship, settling for less. I was impressed by his persistence. He never undermined his standards in order to achieve something sooner. Just before his next birthday, he met the women of his dreams and got married. She is stunning and they are the perfect match. High standards require you to have persistence. He persisted until he found the right woman, was relentless concerning his standards and had the courage to ask her out to dinner.
"To live a life of high standards, you must be persistent, relentless and courageous."
What standards in your life right now should you re-evaluate? What standards did you accept in your life that undermined your capacity and what can you learn from it?
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