What does it mean to raise your standards?
You’ll be treated based on what you can tolerate. I first observed this while globetrotting a few years ago that, depending on where you travel, passengers have different standards – what they will tolerate – and airlines treat them accordingly.
Let’s suppose you are somewhere in the Middle East and you need to take a trip out. You could go in multiple directions; you could fly nearby to Africa or Yemen. You might hop over to India, Pakistan. How about a trip to the UK? Or better yet, take a long haul flight down to Dallas or the other direction to Singapore?
Something interesting happens as you shuffle between destinations, even if it’s the same airline. Depending on your destination, the quality standard of the airplane and the overall experience is going to go up or down.
I’m curious: What if everyone on that airline destination raised their standards, said they would not TOLERATE such low standards of cleanliness and service, and refused to accept service of such low standard? The problem is that they TOLERATE it, and get their face rubbed, just like the rabbit.
Don’t be the rabbit.
Tolerating: Is to allow the existence, occurrence, or practice of (something that one dislikes or disagrees with) without interference.
Raising your standard: Is to have higher expectations and “interfere” so that those expectations are met.
Disagreeable behavior x is happening from you or to you. If you TOLERATE, you will allow this behavior to happen without interference. If you RAISE YOUR STANDARD, you will proactively “interfere” until you realize your higher expectation.
What turns Tolerance into a Higher Standard is: INTERFERENCE.
Intervening, opposing, resisting something from continuing until the new standard is set.
According to an authentic narration, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever among you sees a munkar, let him change it with his hand [by taking action]; if he cannot, then with his tongue [by speaking out]; and if he cannot, then with his heart [by at least hating it and believing that it is wrong], and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]
Excellence, and thus a higher standard, will NEVER result from an accident. It will need intelligence. It will need a plan.
What gets measured improves.
Make a commitment to someone, or write a commitment contract. Try and get others to hold you accountable. Just like your mom held you accountable when you were young to a higher standard, now that you’re an adult you could still benefit from someone holding you accountable.
Activity: pick a slice of your life, like Deen or health or finances, and make two columns. Ask yourself in one column: what do I tolerate (i.e. what would I accept to happen even if it’s displeasing to me)? And in the other column ask: where would I interfere until I meet my standard? Do the activity, it’s very eye-opening and humbling. What did you learn?
One thing I learned from this activity is the meaning of the statement: pick your battles. We sometimes interfere, attempting to raise standards, in things that aren’t that big a deal, and tolerate (i.e. do not interfere) on more destructive behavior.
Another thing I learned is that what we won’t accept anything less for, is also what we don’t strive for anything more. If you do not accept anything less than a positive 10k for example in your bank account, you also will not strive for much more than that. That becomes a sort of thermostat setting. It warms up or cools down to get back to your setting, i.e. your standard.
Do the activity – what did you learn?
Founder and President of DiscoverU, an Islam-based personal development institute. Muhammad Alshareef graduated Islamic Law from Madinah University and holds a Masters Degree from West Virginia University. Canadian, ethnically Egyptian, and a true citizen of the world. He writes about Islamic solutions to popular personal development questions.