When you lean into the power of your choices and point them at your highest priority objectives, the next fundamental of discipline is your standards.
Standards come third because you can't explore, choose, or commit to them until you've established a willingness to choose and clear, strong objectives. Now you're in a position to set standards for how to think, act, and interact as you make choices and pursue objectives.
In my experience, this is where discipline gets fun, creative, and artistic. Deciding to set and live my chosen standards aimed at my priority objectives across every aspect of my life is when discipline transformed from a "have to" to a "get to." I evolved from a follower to a leader, then from a leader to a creator. What am I creating? My life, my purpose, what defines it, and what excellence looks like for me.
Your standards are the most visible element of your discipline and the most intimate. They are how you personalize and shape your discipline to meet your needs, preferences, beliefs, goals, and desires.
Nearly everything and everyone will attempt to tell you what standards to live. They will try with guilt and persuasion, suggestions and advice, anger and judgment, encouragement and commands, rewards and punishment, inclusion and exclusion.
But no matter how much someone -- whether it's a personal relationship or the impersonal voice of mass or social media -- tries to push and pull you into their standards, don't let them. Choose your standards.
Don't absorb standards from the people or environment around you. If you're going to set a standard, make it your choice. Don't do it for ease or acceptance. Don't do it out of obligation or fear of conflict. Instead, think, consider, and choose what is best for you, the life you are trying to create, and who you want to be.
Maybe the saddest observation I've had over the past ten years is how many people are living standards they didn't choose themselves but passively absorbed from the people, situations, and media around them. It's heartbreaking. It's almost like they're living shadows of their lives.
Choices are where your discipline lives or dies. Every moment of choice is a defining moment.
Objectives are where your discipline establishes a direction. Every objective propels you down a path.
Standards are what give your discipline shape. Every standard carves a piece of your character.
Answer the call. Do the work.
Share your thoughts
Brian Kight is a multi-industry leader on the topics of leadership, culture, and behavior. He provides simple systems that produce exceptional results for organizations, teams, and people.