By Steve Moran

This is one of those “way deep, inside your head” kind of articles, so I am going to apologize in advance. If you are one of those people who doesn’t spend much time thinking or caring about all those voices and ideas rattling around inside your head, this is the article to skip.

A few days after attending the 2021 NIC Fall Conference in Houston, I was listening to a podcast or YouTube leadership video (did you know you can use them just like podcasts when out driving, taking a walk, or working out?), and the discussion turned to this question:

What standard do you use to judge yourself?

Coming from NIC where on the surface it seems as if everyone is fantastically successful, this really struck me. Don’t get me wrong, I love NIC, the conference, the organization, and the leadership. But NIC is the biggest poser-fest in the senior living industry.

Logically we know even during good times, there are people at every conference who are in personal and professional crises. Companies on the verge of being out of business.

It is a rare conference where anyone says “I am really struggling” or “We are not sure we are going to make it.” And I am not actually suggesting NIC would be the appropriate venue for that kind of conversation, but the question still remains, what standard do you use to judge yourself?

Power in Life

Our happiness is almost entirely determined by the standard by which we judge ourselves. This is worth thinking about because there are 3 things people do:

  1. We set unrealistic high standards for ourselves — When we do this we are simply never happy. It can drive us to be better or it can drive us to despair. A subset of this is setting a standard for ourselves that is way higher than the standards we set for others. We are never happy and never allow others to reach their full potential.
  2. We set low standards for ourselves — When we set low standards for ourselves we never improve, we settle for mediocrity. Even worse, we then allow/accept low standards for those who work for us; those who are around it. We are never happy and it allows others to do bad things, including hurting themselves and others.
  3. We set higher standards for those around us than we set for ourselves — First, this is something everyone of us does. Let me demonstrate: Have you ever been outraged when someone cut you off in traffic; or you were treated badly by wait staff, a customer service person, or a clerk?

    Yep, every one of us has.

    Now the hard part. Have you ever cut someone off, treated a wait staff, a customer service person, a clerk, a telemarketer, or a senior living vendor salesperson badly? That is setting higher standards for others than for ourselves. It makes us miserable and it is not nice.

It seems that those people who are happiest set high but attainable standards for themselves and others, but in both cases have grace for their own or others’ failures.

What kind of standards do you set for yourself?