Standing FOR High Standards

Indications of who you really are
Creating your Reality

© Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
from the Coaching Series

Higher or Lower?

Several years ago I posted a couple of coaching articles written to open your paradigms on the way to breaking loose from the habit of perfectionism and black and white thinking:

The Virtues of Lowering your Standards
Getting to Good Enough

And now it may seem as if I am encouraging you to do the exact opposite. Sheesh!

It’s a trick of language – two different meanings for the same word

When I speak of “lowering your standards” (small “s”) I am using the meaning most similar to, “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations.” ~ Google Dictionary

Using that meaning of the word, I am referring primarily to getting beyond that crazy idea that “any task worth doing is worth doing well.”

Many folks continue to intone that meme as if it were a universal truth, without stopping to notice that it’s a great big black and white SHOULD.

It always seemed to me that if the task’s worth doing at all, any forward progress is good forward progress, right?

Aren’t these “Do it WELL” folks the same ones who swear
that “slow and steady wins the race?”


JUST because a task is worth doing, doesn’t mean that it is
automatically deserving of top-of-the-line priority focus.  Duh!

A job worth doing is worth doing adequately, too.

There is not enough time in anybody’s life to do every single thing in an A+ manner.  Good enough really IS good enough for many of life’s to-dos and activities.

Embracing that idea leaves a great deal more time for working at the top of your game where it really matters – like honoring your very own Personal Standards.  It makes for a much happier and more satisfying experience of living.

Friend and colleague Tom Nardone came up with a nifty chart to underscore that idea.

Raising Personal Standards is a different animal altogether.

When I speak of raising your Standards (capital “S”), I am using a meaning closer to (but not really the same as) “principles of conduct informed by notions of honor and decency.” ~ Google Dictionary

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So what ARE Personal Standards?

Personal Standards are nothing more than a set of behaviors by which you guide your life. These behaviors are built upon global expectations you have of yourself in a variety of situations. They are not necessarily performance standards or attached to society’s notions of morality or what you ‘should’ do.

What are High Personal Standards?

High Personal Standards represent those very best behaviors and actions to which you hold yourself, just because that’s the kind of person you are.  Jettison the idea of “morality,” since that sends most of us over to “should” territory.  It’s more a Values thing.

The higher you set your Standards, the clearer a reflection of your Purpose they become.

Once you have set Boundaries and surrounded yourself with people who respect you enough to honor them, it is time to look inward once again and choose who you are by the Standards you hold and honor.

First, let’s look at what a High Personal Standard is NOT:

  • A should – get rid of those!
  • An ego trip or a chance to feel righteous
  • Something you do because you are told you must
  • Something to copy simply because it works for somebody else

You can’t decide to establish High Personal Standards because it will get you something else (in other words, an “in order to” activity) – that will rarely be effective.

  • Your Standards are simply an expression of WHO you feel yourself called to BE.
  • The first step in raising your Personal Standards is recognizing the ones you already have in place.

If you are like I was (along with many of my clients) you probably haven’t fully acknowledged many of your Personal Standards until you have taken the time to look, framing them in language that speaks to you.

When you do, however, you’ll probably be delighted to discover
that they are and have always been the frame for who you ARE. 

But guess what?  They change as you change.  Personal Standards are always a measure of who you are now.  It is always more effective to operate with the Standards that we are ready for and comfortable with right now.

  • When we raise Standards too rapidly we tend to become overwhelmed and beat ourselves up when we are unable to honor them every single time.
  • When we raise Standards “organically” they simply become an expression of how we go about life.

A man’s life is measured by the company he keeps

Attributed to many different people, nowhere could the quote above be more apt than in the area of Personal Standards.

Once you jettison the time and energy vampires, you’ll have more time to hang out and develop relationships with people whose Standards you admire, which will quickly become your new “normal.”

As you spend more time with folks who are energetically uplifting, you’ll not only be encouraged to honor your current Standards, you’ll find yourself naturally motivated to raise them over time.

It’s a dynamic the coaching field refers to as “upgrading community,” one of several of the elements that, combined together, form a Personal Foundation™ supporting a life of happiness and fulfillment.

Unfortunately, the opposite is also true.

It can all too easily seem “normal” to limp along with life when most of the people with whom you surround yourself have lower Personal Standards than those to which you aspire.  Water seeks its own level, as they say.

A few ideas to get you started:

BASIC Personal Standards

  • Being honest
  • Being nice
  • Treating animals and children kindly
  • Always saying thank you, even for simple favors

Higher Personal Standards

  • Always telling the truth, as kindly as possible, even if there is a consequence
  • Walking the talk that people are more important than results —
    jettisoning the idea that the end justifies the means
  • Addressing your own needs first (and making time to keep the basics in place) —
    because it assists you in helping others
  • Expressing gratitude for many wonderful things it is easy to take for granted
    every single day

HIGH Personal Standards to inspire you:

  • Being unconditionally constructive with everything you say or do —
    “making others right” because they are
  • Being fully responsible for everything that happens to you or around you
  • Maintaining reserve levels in all domains —
    to give you peace and allow you to be fully present
  • Being grateful for ALL of life’s lessons


* What are the Personal Standards you already honor?

* If you had to raise one of them, which one would it be?

* How would you word your brand new Standard?

* What would then be available in your life that is not available now?

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(reblogs always okay, and much appreciated)


Interested in Learning MORE about developing your own Strong Personal Foundation™?

I’ll put a TeleClass together to step you through it, piece by piece, the moment I can see there is enough interest.

I need only six participants to put it together, and twelve to announce a class start – class size is small to allow for personal attention in every session.

When I stepped through each of the elements myself, many years ago now,
my life was simply NOT the same ole’ grind by the end of the course!

I have since tweaked the original 12-session syllabus to add a few elements and tailor it specifically for the community I support, and I’m told it’s even more effective across the board.

Leave me a comment – here or under ANY post – to let me know that you might be interested in enrolling.

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There’s a lot to know, a lot here already, and a lot more to come – in this Series and in others.
Get it here while it’s still free for the taking.

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About Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, MCC, SCAC
Award-winning ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching field co-founder; [life] Coaching pioneer -- Neurodiversity Advocate, Coach, Mentor & Poster Girl -- Multi-Certified -- 25 years working with EFD [Executive Functioning disorders] and struggles in hundreds of people from all walks of life. I developed and delivered the world's first ADD-specific coach training curriculum: multi-year, brain-based, and ICF Certification tracked. In addition to my expertise in ADD/EF Systems Development Coaching, I am known for training and mentoring globally well-informed ADD Coach LEADERS with the vision to innovate, many of the most visible, knowledgeable and successful ADD Coaches in the field today (several of whom now deliver highly visible ADD coach trainings themselves). For almost a decade, I personally sponsored and facilitated seven monthly, virtual and global, no-charge support and information groups The ADD Hours™ - including The ADD Expert Speakers Series, hosting well-known ADD Professionals who were generous with their information and expertise, joining me in my belief that "It takes a village to educate a world." I am committed to being a thorn in the side of ADD-ignorance in service of changing the way neurodiversity is thought about and treated - seeing "a world that works for everyone" in my lifetime. Get in touch when you're ready to have a life that works BECAUSE of who you are, building on strengths to step off that frustrating treadmill "when 'wanting to' just doesn't get it DONE!"

91 Responses to Standing FOR High Standards

  1. tmezpoetry says:

    Tom Nardone…. geez it’s been awhile since I heard his name. Used to follow him on linked years ago. Does he have a wordpress site? I’m rarely on linkedin.


  2. Christy B says:

    I hold myself to a very high standard so I already know this is an article that I will come back to re-read in the future, Madelyn. I know what you are saying about not enough time in a day to go everything exactly to the highest standards so I will have to stop doing that as some days are quite long! Only I struggle a bit because I want to do my best all the time; that’s how I was raised and the work ethic my parents have had. So, instead, I’ll try my best for balance. Thank you for this wonderful post xx

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dgkaye says:

    Great points Madelyn. We have to keep our standards high, but often we overload ourselves with them, trying to be perfect in every department. So not doable. Thanks for important reminders. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I missed this great post, Madelyn. Horrible and hectic week last week! In some jobs and areas of work you have to keep the standards very high all the time. Such in the nature of my job as I deal with the stock exchange and the documents that influence public investing decision making. That is why I have resigned. My company has given me more and more work (12 transactions at the last count). It is impossible to do so much work to the necessary high standard. Errors come back to bite you in this industry.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Scary — you are SO right that you can’t afford to rush through financial work or let your Standards slip. Very short-sighted of that company to pile that much work on a single person as they did – even someone as competent as you.

      The daughter of a friend resigned from my building’s management company for a similar reason. They had to replace her with TWO people. Too late smart.

      I’m sure your ex-company is mourning over losing YOU – but congrats on your decision to resign.


  5. daisymae2017 says:

    I try to keep my standards high but that’s not always easy. I take each day one day at a time and try to keep my standards high. Liked this post a lot. Shared on LinkedIn.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m trying to surround myself with people with similar standards. Cheers,H

    Liked by 1 person

  7. An excellent set of Standards Madelyn.. 🙂 and wise words .. 🙂 Wishing you a peaceful weekend

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Madelyn once again you have brought us the reader to a new height of awareness. As we read and re-read this piece there was so much to glean. It is another topic we in our household regularly have discussion on. Who are we and are we walking the walk or just talking the talk. Finding balance is such an endeavor. Perfectionism can debilitate and shoddiness can too. Personal standards is just that, personal but it doesn’t mean settling for either. And the point about the “company we keep” is critical. The Bible calls it “bad company corrupts good morals” and from experience can attest to its validity. We could go on and on but you really brought out so much to be processed and internalized. Excellent!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thought provoking. A great prompt for some self-examination.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s fun, as well as uplifting, to dig around in *Self* examination – so I’m pleased that you find the post a great prompt for same, Ernesto. NOT that you havea great deal of time for that with Little Frankie around, huh? LOVED seeing his photo on the computer screen on the desk photo you posted recently. They grow so fast (cliche of the decade, but so true).


  10. -Eugenia says:

    Setting high personal standards is a way to stay in tune with who we are and who we want to be. I like to keep raising the bar on my personal brand, my persona, my reputation – whatever words one wants to use to describe themselves and their actions.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. John Fioravanti says:

    Reblogged this on Words To Captivate ~ by John Fioravanti and commented:
    What are Personal Standards? Madelyn Griffith-Haynie gifts us with a fresh and practical look at an old concept. Please, read on…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh goodie – I’m thrilled as with that “practical” word as I am with the reblog, John. I was hoping in wouldn’t land sounding “airy-fairy” OR simplistic. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      • John Fioravanti says:

        These concepts that you write about are things I don’t often think about, so I have difficulty with them. By the time your explanations are complete, I understand. Nothing simple about any of this, Madelyn. I’m happy to share your wisdom.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Actually, it’s extremely “simple” — just not EASY! lol 🙂

          As for sharing “my” wisdom — I’d love to take credit, but I can only share my own perspective in words to describe the wisdom of the ages. These Standards principles go all the way back to Plato – and probably earlier than that (as I’m sure YOU know, you history maven you!)

          Liked by 1 person

          • John Fioravanti says:

            You got me on the Plato source. I’ve studied some things Plato wrote, but not everything. You’re right – none of this is easy!

            Liked by 1 person

            • lol – no matter! The only thing that any of us really need to know is that there’s little about human growth and development that is actually new.

              We humans have been grappling with how to handle this thing called life since our earliest days – and each of us who think about it and talk about it and write about it with anything approaching “wisdom” is merely adding his or her perspective from his or her experience in an attempt to be helpful.

              Liked by 1 person

            • John Fioravanti says:

              You’re right – these are age-old questions and struggles, but medical science, psychology, and sociology are giving us new insights and helping us to create new wisdom – with better understanding. These aren’t my fields, so I struggle sometimes to understand. Your explanations make that possible for me. Thank you!

              Liked by 1 person

            • What a sweet comment, John. Thank you!

              Liked by 1 person

  12. Madelyn always come out with the best of information. So encouraging and an inspiration to one and all. There are so many positive features that change your life for the better. Thanks for the lovely share.


  13. Another brilliant article – very existential. I venture to suggest that High Personal Standards are somewhere on Maslow’s Self-actualization level, but they are definitely to strive for.

    Liked by 1 person

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