Writer & Eternal Student

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How High is Your Bar?

Published: March 29, 2006

Given the opportunity to do something how do you approach it?

My son came home from school complaining about a 'stupid rule' his school recently established. After hearing the rule, I agreed that for a child like my son, the rule was stupid. However, I explained to him that the rule was enacted because they had to create a bar. A bar is a minimum standard of acceptance. This bar (which is set very low), is a bar that a lot of the students will use as their maximum code of behavior.

Think of an elementary school child told to read 15 minutes a day. The ones that need it the most will start getting antsy ten minutes into their reading session. By the time they reach fourteen and a half minutes, they're already beginning to close the book. To get them to read for fifteen minutes, the bar has to be set higher.

Or, you tell your child to take out the trash. "But it's not full" is the response. No, but the rotten milk container in the trash makes it stink. Because his bar is set to react only when the trash is full, a rancid smell is not included in his trash bar so the stinky trash will sit.

See where I'm going?

There are bars set in society in an attempt to set a minimum standard of living. These bars are not necessarily set very high. How do you set and react to the bars in your everyday life?

I was recently commissioned to write short articles for a client. I was given a few hundred titles to write. Not knowing how many I could get done in a week, I allowed myself the luxury of 1 a day 5 days a week. It was agreed I could submit 5 articles weekly. Good. The bar is set.

After a few weeks of becoming well versed on the topic, I realized I could complete 3 times as many articles within the same time frame. Should I keep this low bar as my maximum? Should I raise my bar to commit to 15 articles rather than the original 5? Why push myself? Why reset the bar and expect more of myself?

I decided to reset the bar. Why not develop, expand and challenge myself? It's a win-win situation. My client gets more of what he wants, and I not only rise to the occasion (a small victory for me), but I also earn additional income.

This made me look at other areas of my life. Do I need to adjust a bar here or there? I've found that people with low expectations tend to look at everything as near impossible rather than something to grow from and overcome. Raise the bar just once, and you may raise it twice. After raising your bars a few times, it might become a habit. You'll start to look at everything differently.

When you make it a habit to raise your bar, other people tend to look at you as "you're so lucky, look what you've got". It's not luck. It's called raising the bar. Expect more from yourself and you get more.

Celebrate your victories and move on.

That's my 2 cents and I'm sticking to it.

About the Author: I am Felicia A. Williams, a wife, mom, grandma, writer and eternal student.

Last Modified: 21 May 2021

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