When I was in Catholic grade school, the grades we received were different than the grades in public schools. Instead of getting an A, B, or C, we were given Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, or Poor. In addition to those grades, we were also given a number grade that indicated our effort. The effort score of 1 meant you gave 100%, while the score of 4 meant you did nothing.
I never got in trouble for getting a Good, the equivalent of a C in public schools. I got in trouble for getting a C4. In my house, it wasn’t the C that would get you in trouble, it was the 4. The fact that you could get a C without lifting a finger meant that you were capable of better and only received the low grade because you didn’t put forth the effort. Even when I received an A, I did so with the accompanying effort score of 2 or 3.
Excellent results are better than great results. Great results are better than good results. There is no reason to write about anything less than good results, because anything less isn’t worth pursuing. The difference between excellent and great is the standard you set for yourself—and your team, if you are a leader.
If the standard you set for yourself is to be good, your effort will match that standard. If you want to do good work, have good relationships, be in good health, and make a good living, your effort will match that outcome, likely a 3 or 4. If you want these areas of your life to be great, you will have to increase your effort level to something closer to 2. But in the areas where you want to be excellent—or even exceptional—your effort level is going to have to be a 1, the maximum effort, the best you have to give.
For some of us, it will seem unfair that others can produce excellent or exceptional results with less effort. Each of us are born with different gifts and different deficiencies. But while some people produce excellent results in some area without a great deal of effort, they often struggle in others, areas where other people have an easier time producing excellent results.
All of this is to remind you of what you already know: If you want a better result in some area of your life, the way to produce that results is to raise your standard, and that means increasing your effort. What standard do you need to raise? What does your effort need to be to produce that outcome?
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