“Standard”. Dangerous word. I don’t like things that create any type of limit sensation in the mind.
Sometimes, standard behaviors become routine actions. The problem is that, in almost all the cases, there’s no filter to let us know if those behaviors will be valuable in any sense.
We adopt some standards for our lives without even realizing it. Some of those standards are even things we don’t like, but they start taking place because of the routine, and they cling into our daily lives. Some of them are things that, without capturing our attention and flying under the radar, start to stack up each other to become ‘standards’.
Have you noticed how “good, working a lot” or “good, but I haven’t had time to do anything, I have had a lot of work” has become the standard answer when two people start talking?
Or how the standard answer for a bad outcome or an unexpected result is the classic “Well, that’s life”?
Those are the little details and the signs that show me that is very dangerous to let the “standard” thinking permeates our daily routine.
Be very careful about adopting behaviors on autopilot. The fact that the majority of people do something, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to do. The fact that the majority of people is talking about something, doesn’t mean it’s a good thing to talk about.
Try to challenge your actual standards. I bet you will realize there are a lot of behaviors that are not creating any real value to your life. But, as they are socially accepted, or seem normal, maybe you haven’t thought about getting rid of them.
Scanning behaviors and standards
When I started thinking about some standard behaviors I’ve had in recent years, I realized some of them are really stupid, or at least doesn’t bring any real value to my life. On the contrary, accepting these standards in my life adds clutter and disorder to my days.
Recently, I decided to make a “scanning”, to see which of those standards were worth to reevaluate or eliminate.
Some of the conclusions of my “scanning” were:
Stupid standard # 1: Having a generic way to say “hello”
Most of us have three or four sentences that we always use when we start a conversation with someone else:
– “Good, working a lot”
– “Good, but I haven’t had time to do anything, I have had a lot of work”
– “Nothing new, what about you?”
It’s very sad that most of the times we use these standard sentences. If we think about it, the first approach with someone, the first words you say during a conversation are a great opportunity to create impact and recordation. So, why do we keep wasting these opportunities answering the same three standard sentences?
Imagine that when someone asks “how are you? Or “how was your day?” you answer with a creative and genuine answer. As they are expecting the traditional and standard “Good, working a lot”, if they receive a creative, genuine or unexpected answer, there’s a better chance that it will be a good conversation, or at least that they will remember you or get a good impression.
Stupid standard # 2: Believe that living with my knee pain is normal
I have suffered from a knee pain for years. It’s tolerable, but it’s uncomfortable. I have done physiotherapy, and I have a normal life. But, because of the knee pain, I can’t do some things that I really enjoy, like playing soccer.
My answer to that issue? “That’s life…I can’t do anything about it”.
Living with a pain (and doing nothing about it) is a stupid standard. You can always do things to improve your conditions.
Instead of answering “That’s life…I can’t do anything about it”, I started to ask myself “What can I do to strengthen my knee and recover from that pain?
I returned to physiotherapy, and I’m cycling and doing strengthening exercises to recover my knee. I replaced conformity standards for improvement standards.
Stupid standard # 3: Being worried about watching (or reading) the news, and believing everything they say
As Tim Ferris in the 4-Hour Workweek says “Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals, and outside of your influence. I challenge you to look at whatever you read today and tell me that it wasn’t at least two of the four.”
Being worried because you don’t know what is happening in the world or because you haven’t read the news is a stupid standard.
I prefer to be spending my time and my energy doing significant work, doing something that directly impacts my life, and not wasting that valuable time reading or watching the news. 8 hours later, I won’t remember 90% of that information, so, why even spend that time on that?
Focus on doing meaningful work, don’t waste your neurons with the news…
Cliché standards lead to cliché thinking, cliché thinking lead to cliché and mediocre behavior, mediocre behavior leads to mediocre actions, mediocre actions lead to a mediocre life…
We all deserve better standards. It doesn’t make sense to do anything just because everyone else is doing it, or because it’s the “normal” thing to do. Sometimes, “normal” also means boring, inefficient and stupid.
Start asking yourself which behaviors in your life needs to be reviewed, and which ones are not creating any real advantages and value in your life.
Don’t shield yourself in the comfort of so many clichés and standards. If you want to stand out, your actions and behaviors also need to stand out.