When watching the opening ceremony for the London Olympics Friday night, I could not help but compare them to the opening ceremony from the 2008 Beijing games. In my opinion, the London ceremony fell far short of Beijing’s. I still remember watching in amazement as the Chinese put on a show with a huge “wow factor.” While there were some clever moments Friday night, it all seemed a little too cerebral and boring for an opening ceremony for me.
Since the 2008 ceremony made such an impression on me, it is the standard by which I measure Olympic opening ceremonies unless and until it is surpassed by something else. I don’t know how many others share that opinion, but it’s my standard regardless of how many others share it.
When it comes to so many things in life and work, it is vital that we know what the standard is by which we measure. Great managers I have had in the past become the standard by which I measure the performance of current and future managers. Great teachers, preachers, and public leaders become standards. Places we visit and at which we have memorable experiences become standards for future travel destinations. Previous relationships become standards (for good or bad) that impact how we relate to others down the road.
Obviously, we don’t all have the same standards because we don’t share the same backgrounds, experiences, education, beliefs, goals, etc. But, hopefully, we at least have standards that make sense to us, that drive us to some level of performance and quality of life, inwardly and outwardly. To have no such standards means that we aimlessly drift along wherever the wind blows. I can’t imagine a more meaningless and frustrating journey. It may sound exotic to be freely carried along by the wind, but in doing so you wind up at a destination determined by someone or something else.
I can’t do much about Olympic opening ceremonies, but I can at least know those people, processes, qualities, beliefs and practices that form the standards by which I live and evaluate life. I hope you know such standards as well.
Leap year lesson #208 is Know the standards by which you measure.