Have you ever wondered why some people seem to consistently perform at a higher level than others? Or why some people in your organization seem to continually produce more remarkable results than others? Or why some organizations seem to be at the forefront of their industry or market, year after year? If you have, then I think you’ll appreciate that one of the reasons why is that they have a higher mental standard.
For example, yesterday I was in a discussion with a few people about an upcoming event. As inevitably happens, cost issues came up (which isn’t a problem, from my perspective, because I’m a strong advocate of sound fiscal management). However, whenever cost issues arise, one of the normal patterns of behavior/discussion for most people is, "Well, if we do x, it’ll be good enough." After a few of those comments, one of the participants in the conversation noticed I wasn’t thrilled with the direction the conversation was going and said, "Oh, it just dawned on me, I’m trying to plan an event with the Make it Remarkable guy!" Bingo!
It’s the most amazing thing, whenever you or I have a standard of excellence or remarkability, it changes everything we do. Phrases like, "that’ll be good enough," or "Eighty percent is good enough, then move on," or "who’ll notice the difference," or "what did we do last time?" will be eliminated from your vocabulary and mindset. Instead, you’ll look at everything you do as an opportunity to do something more remarkably than you did last time.
It won’t matter if it’s an event you’re planning or a product you’re designing, a meal you’re preparing or a letter you’re writing, a project you’re completing or a proposal you’re submitting. It won’t matter if it’s a customer service initiative you’re creating or a web page design you’re submitting, a talk you’re going to give or a patient encounter you’re involved in. Nor, will it matter if it’s a vacation you’re planning or a room you’re designing. If your standard is excellence or remarkability, you’ll perform at a higher level.
Why? Because we always move in the direction of our currently dominant thought. If the standard we have for ourselves is "good enough" then that’s the image we have in our minds (and we will move toward that). However, if the standard we have in our minds is excellence or remarkability, then we’ll move toward that. In essence, it’s all about what’s in our minds. Or as I like to say, "The cognitive behavioralists are correct." If we want to see a change in behavior, the change must first begin in the mind.
So as you look at your mindset, what is your standard? Are you okay with "good enough" or "ordinary"? Or do you want something more? Do you want excellence or remarkability? What is your standard?
You see, trying to change behavior and performance apart from changing mindset is almost always fraught with failure. So if you want to change your performance (or that of the people you lead), start by raising your standard (or helping them to raise theirs). Eliminate words and phrases like "good enough" and "okay", and aim for excellence and remarkability in everything you do. My guess is that you’ll be surprised at how powerful the impact of such a simple change can be. Standards do matter!
P.S. If you want to change the standard of the people you lead, make excellence or remarkability one of your core values. Then begin a deliberate campaign to make that value part of your culture. Talk about it. Reward it. Cast vision about it. Tell stories about it. Create systems to sustain it. Demonstrate it. Etc. Once your people realize this isn’t the "flavor of the month," they’ll begin to own it. And once they own the value, the change will be dramatic.