Living The Standard

We all have standards we live by. Some of them are based on the expectations of others. Some are self-imposed.

I recently unveiled a “standard” on our campus. This came about through various conversations and initiatives centered around the goal of creating a better student experience on our campus. We wanted to emphasize the potential in each person, as well as the capacity we all share for constant improvement. It was our desire to begin to change the culture of our campus by introducing language we could all use.

Thus, “The Standard” was launched. It simply says…

Doing your very best for the very best of NNU!

When we talk about a standard, we’re describing a rule or principle that is used as a basis for judgment. Coupled with the idea of doing one’s very best (def: of the highest quality, excellence, or standing) we hope to demonstrate the connection between each person who shares the common bond of being a part of this unique community known as NNU (Northwest Nazarene University).

As I spoke to our community about The Standard, I used the illustration of a high jump bar. NNU has established certain expectations and requirements that are necessary to be a part of this community. This is true for students, staff, faculty, and administrative personnel. The thing is, NNU sets the bar at a point that allows the most amount of people entrance into and participation with the community while still keeping its unique sense of identity, purpose, and mission.

The challenge of The Standard is to raise the bar higher – to not simply do enough to get by but to do one’s very best. It’s too easy to try and meet the expectations of the lowest common denominator and settle for mediocrity. The Standard is our attempt to encourage the following:

  • To make a personal choice to do one’s best and raise the bar.
  • To accept the challenge of living by a standard of excellence.
  • To inspire change for the better in the form of personal growth and fulfilling the mission of NNU.

The second part of The Standard is meant to show the connection each person shares with the community of NNU. There is a direct and reciprocal relationship between each person doing his or her very best and NNU being the very best it can be. NNU’s most valuable resource is it’s people. In fact, NNU doesn’t exist without it’s people. The relationship is reciprocal because each person can help and encourage other people to do their very best.

One last thing on using very best as our measurement. I realize it’s a moving target and not easily measurable. Yet each person has some idea if he or she has performed at that level. The thing I like most about doing one’s very best is the focus on continual improvement. If each person strives to improve, then the institution as a whole will improve.

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” -Colin Powell

The Q&A. I provide the Q’s…you provide the A’s.

  1. As you consider our standard, what standards do you seek to live by?
  2. How do you think the language of a standard can help to shape the culture of a community?