This blog post was originally written for, and published on, The Green Room Blog. Check it out at Greenroomblog.com!
Raising Your Standards:
A few months ago, I worked on a theater project that involved some very established musical theater folk. This was a wonderful project on many levels, as the material, energy in the room, and overall excitement about the piece was terrifically high. I learned a ton working on this show, but one of the most important takeaways was one about personal standards. In this room, everyone expected, and therefore delivered, work of a very high caliber. Everyone’s standards were set very high, and this forced the entire creative team to strive for the same level of excellence. This started to make me think: doesn’t it make sense, from time to time, to evaluate your own standards?
I think we can think about standards as being both internal and external: internally, there are the standards that you hold yourself to. These might be things like your standards of time management, standards of what constitutes a productive or not productive day, or standards that involve personal finance, eating habits, etc. Then, we’ve also got external standards: the standards others hold you to, and the standards you have set for the work you do in the professional world. I believe that all of these standards, which are fixed at a certain point at any given moment in time, influence a person’s day to day decision making.
Your internal standards, for instance, might dictate how you choose to spend your time. Your standard for physical fitness might not be that high, so you don’t spend all that much time working out. Your external standards might operate along the same vein. People only expect your creative output to be middling, and so you don’t invest extra time in making your current project “pop”, or “shine.”
But what if the standards were raised? What if you said to yourself, “You know what? I can do just a little bit better.” You automatically make a new social contract with yourself, and all of the sudden, you now have a slightly higher bar to meet. Personally, I think this is one of the secrets to sustained personal development and success. We all reach plateaus in our lives, and can become complacent with the various things we’re doing, whether in the personal, professional, or artistic arena. I invite you all to give yourself a “standards audit” today, and see if there are just one or two things you can do a little bit better. You’ll be happy about it in the long run, I promise.