Become a standard-bearer by raising your standards!

How do pole-vaulters keep improving? They do so by continually raising the bar. Whether we’re athletes or not, we too have to keep raising the bar if we wish to experience endless growth and unfurl our magnificent potential. Take a look at your life. Are you happy where you are? Are you satisfied with your current state of affairs? If you are, congratulations and keep up the good work.

However, if you’re not satisfied, you need to take a close look at the standards you set for yourself. What are “standards”? Well, for one, our standards define what we are willing to put up with. Take Steve and Joe, for instance. Steve lives in a noisy apartment building while Joe lives in a quiet neighborhood. The difference between the lives of the two is more than the areas of the city they live in, it is also in what they are willing to tolerate.

Joe is not willing to accept excessive noise. He believes he deserves to live in peace. In fact, he demands it. And he is willing to do whatever it takes to live comfortably. As for Steve, he can complain all he likes, but nothing will change in his life until he raises his standards. Things will change for him only after he demands more from life and does whatever it takes to get what he wants.

You see, the manner in which we live is always a reflection of our personal standards. If we don’t expect much, we don’t get much. Yet, we can always pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps simply by moving to a higher standard. For example, a young father tells himself his apartment is too small for raising a family, so he makes a commitment to find both a larger apartment and the way to pay for it.

We have to step out of our comfort zone if we wish to raise our standard. To do so needs resolve, effort, and persistence. True, a lot of work may be involved, but we ignore making positive changes at our own peril. After all, when we don’t take responsibility for improving our lives, we will live with regret and guilt, both of which drain our energy. It is like driving around with leaks in your tires, eventually you will come to a standstill.

Become a standard-bearer by raising your standards. The Founder of Success Magazine, Orison Swett Marden (1850 ~ 1924) explains what I mean, “It is those who have this imperative demand for the best in their natures, and who will accept nothing short of it, that holds the banners of progress, that set the standards, the ideals, for others.” Jack Nicklaus said, “It’s hard not to play golf that’s up to Jack Nicklaus standards when you are Jack Nicklaus.” Live in a manner that will cause others to say of you, “It is hard not to live at one’s highest potential when you are ~ (your name).”

Don’t put your life on hold. Instead expand it and elevate it by becoming the best possible you. Adopt a code of conduct that goes beyond good, better, and best. Like Don Quixote, take up the quest of “The Impossible Dream” . . .

To dream the impossible dream
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go.
To right the unrightable wrong
To be better far than you are
To try when your arms are too weary
To reach the unreachable star.
This is my quest, to follow that star,
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far

(From Man Of La Mancha, 1972, lyrics by Joe Darion, 1911 ~ 2001)

As you chase your impossible dream, others may try to dissuade you, but ignore what they say. Jim Stovall didn’t let his blindness get in the way of his dreams. On the contrary, it became a source of inspiration, for he went on to become the Co-Founder and President of the Narrative Television Network, which makes movies and television accessible for America’s 13 million blind and visually impaired. And today, NTN reaches over 35 million homes in the United States. Jim Stovall is also the author of several books including “You Don’t Have To Be Blind To See”, “Success Secrets of Super Achievers”, and “Wisdom of the Ages.” What follows is a Jim Stovall story that I’d like to share with you:

“There were two warring tribes in the Andes, one that lived in the lowlands and the other high in the mountains. The mountain people invaded the lowlanders one day, and as part of their plundering of the people, they kidnapped a baby of one of the lowlander families and took the infant with them back up into the mountains.

“The lowlanders didn’t know how to climb the mountain. They didn’t know any of the trails that the mountain people used, and they didn’t know where to find the mountain people or how to track them in the steep terrain.

“Even so, they sent out their best party of fighting men to climb the mountain and bring the baby home.

“The men tried first one method of climbing and then another. They tried one trail and then another. After several days of effort, however, they had climbed only a couple of hundred feet. Feeling hopeless and helpless, the lowlander men decided that the cause was lost, and they prepared to return to their village below.

“As they were packing their gear for the descent, they saw the baby’s mother walking toward them. They realized that she was coming down the mountain that they hadn’t figured out how to climb.

“And then they saw that she had the baby strapped to her back. How could that be?

“One man greeted her and said, ‘We couldn’t climb this mountain. How did you do this when we, the strongest and most able men in the village, couldn’t do it?’

“She shrugged her shoulders and said, ‘It wasn’t your baby.'”

In the eyes of others, you dream may appear to be an impossible one, but it is not their dream. Protect your dream just as the lowlands mother protected her child and you will be successful.

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