A couple of weeks ago...
I was riffing on the idea of high standards by digging around in the conceptual/philosophical dirt of it all. At the time, I’d promised to circle back around in order to paint a picture of what that actually looks like in life and business for me.
Again, I’ll reiterate that I’m really not shy about the fact that I can be painstakingly particular and intensely insistent at times. Likely not shocking for those of you who know and adore me anyway, but included in my husband’s arsenal of loving nicknames for me is, “Uptown.” (I doubt there’s little need for much clarification on that. :)
However,there remains a critical distinction between our surface,superficial leanings & our most sacred, soulful imperatives.
It’s that path I intend to continue to go down here…
Over the past few years, I’ve developed pretty high standards of how I spend my time and whom I spend it with. In many ways, this has come from learning to centre myself in the understanding that it’s often better to be deeply loved than widely liked.
While both would obviously be delightful and preferable, when we try to be everything to everyone, we ultimately end up as nothing to nobody. Or, as Aesop so wisely surmised in his legendary fables, “In trying to please everyone, (s)he pleased none.”
So, it’s really become this precious principle that now guides the lion’s share of my choices in terms of where I invest my heart, sweat, and hours. Outside of a few minor exceptions, this means that my calendar is only filled with projects, people, and plans that really light me up.
Yet, at the same time, while I’m very consciously creating a life and business that feels spacious, generous, and fulfilling, I also joyfully work my ass off to ensure it stays that way.
In my work, I routinely strive to go out of my way to create optimal and special experiences for my tribe, consistently searching for opportunities to rise above and beyond in terms of thoughtfulness, service, and impact.
This can mean happily engaging in weekend text chats, taking unscheduled phone calls, or adding in extra sessions when I don’t feel we’ve arrived at where we wanted to go. I’ve taken to hosting “gratitude gatherings” to bring women together for connection, collaboration, and celebration. Sometimes impromptu love notes, flowers, or other surprise treats reveal themselves as the most fitting and honest expressions of my deep appreciation for the people I call into my world.
But all of this loving goodness is deliberately partnered with some pretty solid boundaries that keep me out of resentment and wholly in my integrity the majority of the time. And this is where my markedly high standards come most fully and forcefully into play – within and beyond my business.
Because I show up so wholeheartedly to my work, I invite clients and students to consistently arrive in our relationship in the same way. If there’s a noticeable disjuncture in terms of the levels of respect, consideration or commitment, closing the circle on the engagement is not something I’ll hesitate to do – of course, always without judgment, along the warmest of wishes and no hard feelings.
The quality and equality of that energetic exchange has simply become a non-negotiable for me, which is so truly in the most genuine and very best interests of both sides.
If patterns of no-shows, unanswered emails, ignored invoices, and other expressions of disregard begin to emerge, it really dampens the vibe of the working relationship, negatively impacting the levels of enthusiasm, trust, and affection I can bring to the table. When that happens, I’ve found that I’m just not capable of tapping into the soul-centred and full-spirited energy that I’ve come to fully rely on in order to bring forth my best ideas and biggest contributions.
And really, nobody can - which is why I teach and preach this with adamant animation to my clients just as often (um, if not more so) as I live it.
From a different perspective, when it comes to the more creative side of things, such as writing, speaking or facilitating, I no longer desire to expend endless amounts of energy aiming to impress or win people over. For years, I was overly consumed with chasing approval and acknowledgement and it was downright exhausting.
Now I choose to stand tall in my own stuff, trying to shine my light in the most authentic and earnest ways I know how. Inevitably, my particular brand of brightness will attract some and repel others.
And that’s more than ok with me. These days, I’m just aiming to land where the love lives; there’s someone for everyone and that’s quite simply not going to be me in a whole lot of cases.
In my personal life...
Much of the same is true and my high standards typically make themselves seen in the following ways:
I avoid gossip, drama, and small talk like the plague. I tend only to dine, dance, drink, dream, coffee, and conspire with people who are inclined to do the same.
I’m wildly dedicated to philanthropy, volunteerism, and community service. At the same time, I’m also fiercely protective of my time, energy, and dignity.
When we choose to divert minutes away from our babies, beloveds, besties, or businesses, we should take good care to make damn sure it feels exceptionally impactful, important, and rewarding.
In the times I’ve felt compelled to un-attach myself from individuals or organizations unable and/or unwilling to offer up some pretty basic respect, reciprocation, or appreciation, it’s been with a very certain, but still heavy heart.
At the end of the day, at the bedrock of the layers of high standards I stand on are these grounding sentiments from the always eloquent and incitingly articulate, Dr. Maya Angelou:
“Never make someone a priority when all you are to them is an option.”
Whether it’s personally, locally, or globally; and whether we’re marketing, managing, or mentoring, I can’t help but think that the very best we can do is to consistently aspire to be a deeply loved priority rather than a widely liked option.