Some people have said to me over the years than I am a difficult person to work with because of my high standards. Some said it directly, others around corners – acquaintances, clients and/or business partners. And from the point of those who have said it, it’s probably true but from my perspective their standards were low. So who is right?
Standard means a level of something. Either qualitatively or quantitatively. So if you imagine a scale from -10 to 10 someone with a standard of let’s say -5 would look at a person with a standard of 5 he or she would think that this person’s standard is very high in a certain field. But when someone is at a level 5 and would also look at a level 5 standard in another person he or she would think this person’s standard is quite normal. So words such as standard, normal, high, low can all be very very relative. It’s important to understand that when someone says: “Your standards are high.” they are at the same time saying: “My standards are low” because they are comparing your standards to theirs.
In my field of work, people come to me to improve their quality of life in areas of training and nutrition. When we say the quality of life we mean the standard of life of course. They come to raise the standards of their well-being. So when someone who I am working with says to me: “Your standards are high.” I respond: “Compared to yours they probably are. But how would you improve around me if my standards were on an equal level to yours?” And also what people call “your standards” are many times not really “my standards”. They are the standardized norms either of the general population or the general active population. But it’s hard to swallow the fact of how bad we really are sometimes.
More and more scientific research in the field of psychology points to the fact that children who are raised with low standards or no standards at all don’t do well in life. Even if we have no expectations towards ourselves when we go through life we have to meet certain demands and expectations in our environment. So children who are raised without standards develop a kind of nihilistic approach towards life and it’s hard for them to ever find any meaning, purpose or value in life. Therefore parenting approach which does not set any kind of standards or close to none standards for children is one of the worst approaches. Such people often become lost in life and rarely find themselves in it.
A lot of people say: ”I am doing my best.” or “I will do my best.” You see these statements are not facts. How do you know you are doing your best if you don’t even know what your best is? These statements are just opinions. People are saying them so they would not have to push hard or further. They want to convince themselves that is all they’ve got so they wouldn’t have to squeeze another 5,10 or 15% out of themselves. You are doing your best? Don’t be ridiculous. People who are really doing their best will never ever say that out loud even if they could. In physical training, if you are really doing your best you aren’t able to think and much less speak about it.
On a personal level, high standards are a direct expression of high self-respect. I would never ever lower my own standards so that others around me may feel good about themselves. I respect people in general too much (even if they don’t respect themselves) to be able to do that to myself and to them. On a global level when standards fall the world is hurting because the overall quality of life is lost. Two special forces commanders Jocko Willink and Leif Babin have written in their book the following: “When setting expectations, no matter what has been said or written, if substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable—if there are no consequences—that poor performance becomes the new standard.”