Do You Have High Standards?

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Last year, I got inspired by something I read.

No, not ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert or ‘Girl, Wash Your Face’ by Rachel Hollis (though those are both incredibly inspiring reads).

No, today I’m talking about… Jeff Bezos’ letter to his shareholders.

Lol, yep. I read that. Don’t close the browser window yet.

The letter started with some corporate talk, patting Amazon on the back, etc. But then, I saw this paragraph:

Another important question is whether high standards are universal or domain specific. In other words, if you have high standards in one area, do you automatically have high standards elsewhere? I believe high standards are domain specific, and that you have to learn high standards separately in every arena of interest. When I started Amazon, I had high standards on inventing, on customer care, and (thankfully) on hiring. But I didn’t have high standards on operational process: how to keep fixed problems fixed, how to eliminate defects at the root, how to inspect processes, and much more. I had to learn and develop high standards on all of that (my colleagues were my tutors).

The business context aside, this paragraph is incredibly meaningful and thought-provoking when you apply to it to your life.

I happen to agree with Bezos that high standards are domain-specific, not universal. Even people that seem to have it ALL together lack high standards in an area or two. In other words, a woman might have an incredibly high-powered job that she takes on with high standards & integrity, but feed her body all day with Diet Pepsi and processed foods (low standards).

I’m a big fan of journaling and writing down your thoughts & feelings in order to make improvements in your life, so I made a quick little exercise for you to evaluate where you fall in all of this.

Go get out a piece of paper.


Write down the following categories:

  • Work
  • Friendships
  • Family
  • Love
  • Personal health & fitness

Go through them one by one and write down the answers to these questions:

  1. On a scale of 1 to 4, how high are my standards in this area?
  2. For everything rated a 3 or above, write down 1-3 things you will do to keep those standards high.
  3. For everything rated 2 or below, write down 1-3 things you can do to improve your standards.

Some food for thought.

Do you think standards are universal or domain-specific? If you’re comfortable sharing, what areas of your life do you need to improve upon and how will you do so?



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