35@35 #22: Standards

stock-footage-tape-measure-on-woodTC's guidelines and principles of life #22: "You get what you tolerate." A couple weeks ago, I read 'Boundaries for Leaders' by Henry Cloud. He said that leaders get what they build or what they allow.

It reminded me of how Walter Isaacson portrayed Steve Jobs in the eponymous biography he wrote of Jobs: that Jobs was ruthless about saying no to projects which were not in the framework of what he wanted to accomplish.

Isaacson spoke of how, when Jobs returned to Apple following his exile, he listened to a meeting where multiple projects were described to him before he cut everyone off and told them that, from that moment forward, Apple only made 4 products: Pro desktop, Consumer desktop, Pro laptop, and Consumer laptop.

Steve said no to anything else until they added mobile devices (iPod, iPhone, iPad) later on.

Apple made 4 devices, and they made them better than anyone else (I'm not an apple fanboy, and I say this point is not really up for debate).

Steve would not tolerate anything less than excellent, and he would not tolerate unnecessary competition between the teams at Apple. Everyone worked for the same goal.

Coach Mike Krzyzewski spoke at an event a couple years ago about how he leads multi millionaire superstar basketball players when he coaches the olympic team. He said he doesn't give them rules to follow.

Instead, he gathers them together and asks them, together, to create the standards that he will hold the team to.

His job was not to tolerate anything less than the standards the players give. An example he included was that they would never have a bad practice.

Calling a team, or organization, or even ourselves to our highest ability is hard. We naturally seek the path of least resistance.

Only if we make the choice not to tolerate such things are we able to accomplish our highest aims.

What we say 'no' to is equally important to the things we say 'yes' to.

And we should probably say 'no' more often than we say 'yes' if we are to have the life, team or group we want.



35@35 is a blog series by Thomas Christianson which involves 35 blog posts in 2014 on 35 things he has learned at the age of 35.