Before I begin let me clarify what I actually mean by personal excellence.
To me, it’s about showing up every single day being the best version of you. It’s about being committed to achieving greatness in your field of endeavour, whatever that may be. It’s about investing your time every day to raise your personal standards and chase perfection, even though perfection isn’t truly attainable, you may just catch excellence on the way.
Sounds great in theory but how do you put this into practice? How do you set your standards of personal excellence so you are being the best version of you every day?
I’ve spent two decades coaching and mentoring business leaders, managers, owners and entrepreneurs and my first question is always ‘where are you setting your bar personally and professionally?’ This simple question often results in an awkward silence so to bring it to life I use an exercise called Raising the Bar.
The exercise begins with me asking the individual to pick up an imaginary bar and hold it above their head at 6ft in the air. I then ask them to write down 3 easy strategies to get over the 6ft bar. Answers always include pole jumping, standing on a chair, leap frogging – you name it, I’ve heard it!
Now I ask the individual to raise the same bar so it’s 100ft in the air, and write down 5 strategies to get over the 100ft bar. This is where the answers get creative…build a wall, hire a crane, shoot yourself out of a cannon, honestly, I’ve heard this one!
Then I close out the exercise by asking will the strategies to get you over the 6ft bar get you over the 100ft bar? Obviously, no. Will the strategies that get you over the 100ft bar get you over the 6ft bar? Yes, absolutely, every day of the week.
So, my question to you is this… ‘where are you setting your bar personally and professionally?’ Is YOUR bar set at 6ft and therefore you’re having 6ft thoughts or is it set at 100ft and you’re having 100ft thoughts?
At the 6ft bar we’re thinking from a narrow tunnel perspective, doing just enough to hit the mark, no more and no less. However, at the 100ft bar we’re thinking from a wide funnel perspective, stretching our minds as to the sense of possibilities and the opportunities open to us in both our personal and professional life.
Don’t fall into the trap of setting yourself limiting beliefs by aiming only for a 6ft bar, set your sights on the 100ft bar and surprise yourself with what you can achieve. As Michelangelo famously said… “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it.”
Andy Murray, the professional tennis player set himself a 100ft bar when he was just starting out in his career. He turned professional in 2005 and was ranked 407/500 in the world. He spoke to the sporting press and said he wanted to break in to the top 100 before the end of his first season. What did they say? He was stupid to set a season ending target of being in the top 100. Yet he completed the first season ranked 64, well within the top 100
He continually improved year on year; ranking 42 in 2006, 10 in 2007 and four in 2008 and becoming world number one in 2016, in addition to being crowned Olympic Champion. His current injury forced him to withdraw from the US Open two days before the start of the tournament, making it the first Grand Slam tournament he had missed since the 2013 French Open.
How does Murray summarise his success: ‘Setting goals helps you perform at your best – I think it helps you stay focused and know what you’re aiming for. I definitely have a target list of tournaments I want to win. I have incredibly high standards, and have always expected a lot of myself. I think it’s good to have high expectations – it enables you to focus on what’s important and forget the noise around you.’
Murry certainly sets himself a 100ft bar and I have no doubt he will be aiming just as high in his recovery plan so that he can get back out on court as quickly and safely as possible. Where is your bar currently set? Are you aiming for a 6ft or 100ft bar? Only you can answer this one.
Royston Guest is a global authority on growing businesses and unlocking people potential. He is CEO of Pti-Worldwide, author of #1 best-selling business growth book, Built to Grow and founder of livingyourfuture™. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. Connect with him on LinkedIn or check out his weekly blog at https://www.roystonguest.com/