In discussions of achievement, a standard is the degree of proficiency that you consider to be “good enough.”

When set ideally, standards can motivate high achievement.  When set sub-optimally, standards can sustain mediocrity.

One example of a sub-optimally set standard that sticks in my mind is a local band that I once heard on a radio station.

On Sunday nights, this radio station plays music by local bands.  Now, just about every band they play has had their music recorded in one of the area’s top recording studios.  So, while the songs they play on Sunday nights may not have major label-level production or regular rotation-caliber songwriting, they are pretty darn good.

Well, except for one particular Sunday.

On that Sunday, the station played a song by a band that, for the sake of anonymity, we’ll call “Spinal Crap.”  By the sound of the recording, I’m pretty sure that the song was recorded by sitting a smart phone in the center of the band’s rehearsal room and pressing the “record” button.

It was, in a word, terrible.  Unlistenable.

Even if it was a crappy song, if the band had recorded the track in a studio, it wouldn’t have stood out at being so…darn…bad!

The root of the problem is that the band’s standard for what they considered worthy of submission to the station was so much lower than that of their peers.  And, for that, the band suffered from the perception of being among the worst bands in the area.

The concept of standards’ role in achievement applies to so much in life and business, not just music.

Think about these scenarios…

  • If you were to move to a new country and needed to learn that country’s language, what would be your standard?  Would you want to learn just enough of the language to ask for directions to a rest room?  Enough to get a job?  Enough to be perceived as intelligent as your IQ indicates you are?  Or enough that no one would even know you weren’t born in that country?
  • If you were to play on a sports team, what would be your standard?  Would you want to get good enough to just make the team?  Good enough to ensure that you got a little bit of playing time each game?  Or good enough to be considered the best player on the team?
  • If you were to pursue what you’d consider a “successful procurement career,” what would be your standard?  Would you want to perform well enough to not be fired?  Well enough to consistently get good performance reviews?  Well enough to get promoted to procurement manager?  Or well enough to eventually be a chief procurement officer making $300,000 per year?

From these examples, it should be clear:  the standard you set for yourself has perhaps the biggest impact on what you end up achieving.

Set your standard high and never be the procurement equivalent of Spinal Crap.

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3

Charles Dominick, SPSM, SPSM2, SPSM3 is the Founder of the Next Level Purchasing Association. Charles is also the Co-Author of "The Procurement Game Plan: Winning Strategies & Techniques For Supply Management Professionals."

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