High achievers hold themselves accountable to higher “personal standards”.
A personal standard is a personal “choice”, because you get to choose what you expect out of yourself. But here's the problem - A lot of people confuse standards with desire. Desire is just “hope” with no accountability. And standards with no accountability, are just hollow intentions.
Low achievers and high achievers have the same goals. They don’t set out to be low achievers, they just fail to hold themselves to higher standards. The world is full of mediocrity, big talk, missed opportunities, and unrealized dreams. But it doesn't have to be that way.
The difference in outcomes isn't talent, and it's not luck. The x-factor...the difference-maker...is personal accountability. And without personal standards, you can't have personal accountability!
When people think of standards, they tend to think about behaviors. But behind all behaviors, are thoughts and emotions. When you don't live up to your standards, it's because you talk yourself out of them. You didn't feel like it, so you gave yourself a pass.
Now, no one's perfect, and you're not always going to live up to your standards. No one does! Especially if you set high standards for yourself. But high achievers give themselves fewer passes than low achievers do.
So what's the secret? High achievers hold themselves accountable for their thoughts and their feelings. They make a very conscious effort to choose their best thoughts and to engage their more useful emotions. For high achievers, this isn't a trivial exercise. They're very intentional about their thinking.
Here are 10 examples of 'intentional thinking', and I'm going to state them as standards. Standards you can adopt for yourself.
Here we go -
- 'I will routinely stop and think about what I'm thinking.'
- 'I'll quiet my mind, and avoid distracting thoughts.'
- 'I'll think of myself in the third person, and objectively distance myself from the emotions of the moment.'
- 'I'll hold myself accountable for the thoughts I choose.'
- 'I'll avoid mental time travel, and focus on the here and now.'
- 'When I experience a negative emotion, I'll choose more useful thoughts.'
- 'I'll choose rational over emotional thoughts.'
- 'I'll be open-minded, and avoid rigid thinking.'
- 'I'll reflect on the choices I make', and
- 'I'll think compassionately about myself and others.'
These are 10-examples of intentional thinking standards.
Standards are easy to contemplate and commit to, but they’re also easy to forget! If you’re serious about intentional thinking, pick 3 standards and write them down. But don’t stop there, schedule time to reflect on these standards, and that’s when you hold yourself accountable.
Accountability is an ongoing process! And a standard doesn’t exist until it’s written down and revisited. When its written down, and revisited, it’s staring right back at you. There’s nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide.
It’s just you, and the version of yourself you want to be! This is when you make the important choices that define your professional career and your personal life. This approach isn’t just designed to help you perform better, but it will help you “live happier”. And isn’t that the point?