It was my daughter’s birthday so I stopped by at the store to pick a birthday card for her. After some few minutes of searching and reading the cards, I chose what I thought was good enough to convey my heartfelt message to my daughter. I picked the card, and as I started making my way to the checkout lines, my eyes wondered around and I saw some other arrays of greeting cards, this is some couple of feet away from where I had earlier chosen a card. I saw more beautiful cards that were a lot more attractive with better messages than the other card that I had picked. And within a twinkle of an eye, I found a new card that I believed my daughter would love, and just like that, I changed my mind.

There is nothing wrong with changing my mind and making a different choice at the store, but the thought that came to my mind on this occasion was what made this particular shopping experience unforgettable. I dropped the card that I had earlier chosen right where I picked up the new one. Then the thought came, asking if I did the right thing by just leaving the card in the wrong section. Immediately, another thought fired back, that the store staffs are employed to go around and arrange their merchandise to make sure that everything is in its right place. I stood there for some couple of seconds debating between the two opposing thoughts and trying to make up my mind on which one to follow, the word – high standard flashed across my mind. The reasonable voice prevailed, I took the high road by walking 2 feet back to return the card where it belonged.

Certainly, this was a simple and minor decision out of hundreds of decisions that people make on a daily basis, but I felt that if we can all perform some personal assessment before making decisions, the outcome will make our society a saner place to live. What if we start holding ourselves to a higher standard? What if you make the decision and you commit to take the high roads in every of your decision starting from today? What if as a service provider, you decide to always ensure you are providing top notch customer services? What if all financial advisors put the best interest of their clients on their mind in their services? What if Doctors, Nurses, and all hospital workers are committed to working to improve the health of patients.

It is easy to expect more from others, especially those we hold in high esteem, but what if we start holding ourselves accountable and responsible as well? Most of us find it easy and comfortable to criticize our leaders for their actions or inactions. We find it easy to blame and condemn the presidents because of their policies decisions which may not be favorable to us sometimes, forgetting that these leaders make tough calls almost every day on the job and they may not always have the opportunity to assess all the un-intended consequences of their decisions all of the time. What if we chose a high standard and instead try to understand and see things from their perspectives? We find it easy to condemn our neighbor when their lawn is overgrown and their yard look unkempt, what if we take the high road and help them cut the lawn?   We find it easy to judge our colleague when they make mistakes or fall behind on a schedule, what if we can reach out and help take up some tasks from them to help reduce their workload? We find it easy to blame our spouses for their mistakes, what if we can learn to love them irrespective of their imperfections, knowing that we are fallible too? People nowadays find it easy to castigate their pastors for words spoken on the pulpit, when the messages are not what they want. What if we all try to understand that the Pastors are humans like us as well, and that if we are to trade places, we too will certainly say something that some people will find disagreeable. Yes, that careless driver just cut you off on the road, your blood is boiling, you are cursing and you just want to speed up to catch up with him so that you can give him a piece of your mind. What if? What if you take a moment to calm down knowing that you are not in a race with the other driver, and you are probably heading to two different destination.

I can predict what will happen if we all start making the conscious effort to adopt a higher standard at what we do. The world will become a better place, people will live harmoniously together, and there will be peace in the world. So how can we all adopt the higher standard practice and start taking the high roads in all of our dealings? The good news is that you have the power to make this change, and here are three ways you can adopt the higher road standard:

  1. Put things into perspectives: We typically judge others by their actions, not their intentions, whereas we want to be judged by our intentions. It pays to put things in perspectives especially regarding decisions made by leaders and policy makers. If you look deep enough, you may realize that they have good intentions after all. The way to go here is to seek to understand others and avoid passing judgement, rather find ways to make life better for the other party.
  2. Commit to excellence: Life will sure be great if people commit to excellence. Cost of quality in many organizations, which is a measure the quality of an organization’s products or services, will go down. Productivity will rise, and people will enjoy more satisfaction from the work. According to a recent John Hopkins university study, as much as 250,000 people in the United States die every year because of medical mistakes, making medical error the third leading cause of death in America. Committing to excellence will help reduce these unnecessary deaths.
  3. Respect Others: One major cause of dispute and conflict in the society is the lack of respect for others. We want our voices to be heard, and our opinion to dominate those of others. Committing to a higher standard and respecting one another will ensure that politicians start working across the aisle for the good of their countries, the careless driver on the road will follow the speed post and drive mindfully, bosses and subordinates will begin to work together as a team to deliver results for their organizations, marriages will thrive because spouses will listen better to one another. To put it simply, you need to think win-win.
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