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April 8, 2024

Standards Vs Expectations

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As a huge proponent for establishing high standards for myself as the focus of my self-growth, I’m always intrigued to understand how other people talk about it. Inky Johnson recently came on Ed Mylett’s podcast and shared what he believes the difference is between a standard and an expectation.

They seem pretty synonymous, don’t they? Both relate to a level of performance that you hope to achieve. Both relate to being accountable to clearly established criteria... However, Inky says that a standard is born internally and an expectation is imposed externally.

The best organizations and individual performers are built around having standards. Standards are intrinsic. They are woven into the fabric of how things are done, without concern for what others think. When you have a standard it means that you’re unwilling to allow yourself to fall below the level of intentionality, quality, and consistency that you have for yourself. Failing to meet a standard is a matter of integrity and character.

That’s not to say that expectations aren’t helpful, they absolutely are. But know how they impact you. Since expectations come from the outside, they come with more pressure. There’s more space for disagreement or miscommunication. Expectations can be motivating because other people are invested in your performance and you don’t want to let them down. If you respond well to external accountability, having expectations could be extremely effective. 

Inky was a star football player before having a career ending injury, so let’s use a football example. The standard of a football team is reflected in the way they prepare and compete on the football field. It’s the culture they bring to every moment, ensuring that they give themselves the best opportunity they can to win.

The expectation of a football team is that they beat a weaker team, attract high quality talent, and don’t make any game-losing mistakes. In other words, the expectation is about a result and the standard is about the process. 

Your standards establish your personal baseline. The higher your standards, the higher your baseline. And if you want to raise your baseline and hold yourself to a higher standard in the way you approach your health and work, understanding and being consistent with the 9 Super Habits makes high-performance inevitable. If you want to learn about the 9 Super Habits and how you can implement all of them in just 15 minutes a day, this is for you!

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