Seth Godin wrote yesterday that the first rule to doing work that matters is to go to work on a regular basis. That is a simple yet powerful principle. It’s impossible to be remarkable if you choose not to show up.
In every class I teach, I list these four simple expectations on the first page of the syllabus:
1. Come to every class, on time and prepared.
2. Maintain a relaxed but orderly and professional environment in class.
3. Give each other our best effort at all times.
4. If you ever have a problem or complaint about anything associated with the course, I expect you to give me an opportunity to resolve the issue.
I tell my students these are the minimum expectations for success. I crafted these expectations based on my experience in the workplace, not on my experience teaching. To the extent they consistently choose to do these things, they will experience a degree of success. The highest rewards will never go to those that consistently choose not to do these simple things.
I’ve been in several situations in my life where I’ve looked around the room at my peers and competition and realized I was not the most talented or intelligent person in the room. In a few of those situations, people in positions of leadership and influence were ever so kind to tell me to my face that in their opinion I did not measure up.
My approach has always been to focus on the things I can control and not worry about the things I can’t. I’ve consistently found that showing up every time, on time, prepared to give my best effort leads to some measure of success. As much as anything else, I believe that success is a pattern of learned behaviors.
Don’t let your peers be your benchmark. If you do, the best you will ever achieve is the mediocrity of competitive parity. I think you will find that all too often your peers have set the bar surprisingly low.
What do you tell others about your expectations for success? Please share your thoughts in the space below, I’d love to hear from you!