Set your own standard of elite performance and rise to meet it each and every day, with each person you interact with. Give it your very best. Set the bar. Excel in your workplace whether anyone is around to witness what you do or not.
Do you personally have a standard of work that you demand of yourself? The very best employees do and they do it without being reminded of it by their boss. It’s as if their ethical work compass is set at north all the time, but the symbol, ‘N’ on their compass stands for, “Nothing less than the best”. And here’s the interesting thing about being around such people; they tend to bring out the very best in others. So instead of lording over others you find that just being around them causes you yourself to raise your performance to another level you may not have been aware you could achieve.
The really great employees do this. They have an internal work ethic that can’t be taught but which they themselves learned from observation of others and making a conscious decision at some point to internalize. They treat others as they would wish to be treated themselves. They do their work without compromise and they do it consistently, not just every so often or when the spotlight is on them. Even when they are working independently and no one is around to pour on the accolades they go about their business with the same high personal expectations they have for themselves.
And on top of all the above, they can acknowledge their superior performance but do it in a way that is humble, sharing credit with others when that credit is due, and when they are solely responsible for something truly outstanding, they don’t necessarily draw attention to themselves, but point to the outcome, not themselves as the focus.
Now you may or may not feel some kind of jealousy around these folks, but their humbleness and consistency of performance at a high level will, if you admit it, have you admiring their work ethic and abilities. Small people will always wish others worked down to their level instead of demanding more of themselves and rising up to higher levels of personal performance. If we worked harder and smarter with more personal accountability, we too could be more than we are. Can we – could we – do better as we go about our daily jobs?
You know you’ll often find that even outside the workplace these same people have this internal compass for high personal expectations and working to do their best. So you’ll see some parents coming home mentally spent because they gave it their all in the workplace, but they find new-found energy to spend time with their kids playing outside, they invest their interest genuinely in finding out how their spouses day has been, and they contribute around the home with a sense of responsibility.
Now do these people have times where they don’t achieve the results they’d like? Most certainly they do. Despite their best efforts, things don’t always turn out the way they’d hope. But the good ones, the one’s of which I speak find lessons in these moments. They make no excuses, step up to take the responsibility rather than blaming others, and take great pains to not repeat whatever they did previously that resulted in anything less than what they come to expect as the best result possible.
And yes these people do exist. If you are a sports enthusiast, you’ll likely recall a very few who in your opinion and in the minds of others who play that sport, stand out above the rest. Just this past week the world of North American hockey mourned the passing and celebrated the life of Mr. Jean Beliveau of the Montreal Canadiens. He epitomized class and excellence. Not only did the man have his name on the championship trophy 17 times, he did as much off the ice as he did on it. He turned down the Governor General position of Canada because he wanted to put his own family first after all those years they gave up so much for him and allowed him to play the game he loved.
But this article isn’t about Mr. Beliveau. It’s about you; you and me. Are we the very best we can be on a consistent day-to-day basis? Do you even want to raise your level of personal expectations to the point where your personal accountability and the results you achieve are greater than they are today? Maybe you do and maybe you don’t.
When we say, “Well, at least I gave it my best shot”, is that the truth? What might we have done differently or better to achieve an overall result that would be more satisfying? Does every customer we deal with leave having got an exceptional experience from us that leaves them feeling satisfied and happy to return?
If you are up for it, take this challenge to raise your standard of performance this one day. Start with a single person, a co-worker, a client, a customer – anyone – just start. Push yourself in that single interaction to look them in the eye as you speak with them, give them your full attention and make their need your own. Leave them better for having spoke with you. When you’re done, repeat.
Demand your best of yourself.