Personal Foundation: Raising Standards

      by Kevin MacDonald
If you are reading one of my articles in Outlook for the first time you should know that this article is the fifth in a ten part series that is intended to support CMAA members in building a personal foundation that will support them in their efforts to build brilliant careers that truly support the professionalism of the industry. So far in the series we have discussed the importance of clearing unresolved matters, the importance of integrity, getting your needs met, and extending your boundaries. This month the discussion moves to raising your standards.

You have standards. We all do. Some people hold themselves to very high standards some haven’t chosen to and some people that we encounter in our lives may have very low standards. Standards are the set of behaviors or beliefs that we have decided to live by. I think that as important as it is for us to define what our standards are is the investigation of how they became our standards. In our clubs we have standards that we ask our staff and our members to live by. They can be a way of doing things but I would ask that you think of your standards in the context of a personal foundation as a way of being. Are you being the way you decided to be or are you being what others have told you to be? The reason I ask this is that we need to realize that we have the ability to decide the way we are and it is not just a result of the way we have always been.

If you know me very well you will know that I am a proponent of learning from the stars in our lives and the stars in our industry. Over the past twelve years of involvement with CMAA I have sought out and built relationships with many of the leaders of the organization. I have been so interested in observing the personal standards of these leaders. My friend Joe Charbonneau advised me long before I became a coach to find the masters of the business and really get to know them. In addition to seeing what they do, learn how they think, how they talk, how they interact with people, how they feel about their families or in other words how they “be”.

The thing I really admire about some of the leaders I have met is the way they carry themselves. I notice them to be amazingly supportive and willing to help people. They have a strength and inner confidence that allows a quiet brilliance. They are humble, they don’t need to tell you what they have accomplished or what they have. They often have a great sense of humor and are especially able to laugh at themselves. They are constructive, they build others up and are not likely to spending time knocking others down or gossiping about their peers. One of the most exciting discoveries that I have made in my time as the coach for the organization is that these men and women often ask me to challenge their already high standards so they can raise them even higher.

People who set high personal standards tend to feel very good about themselves. They tend to feel good about others too. People who set high personal standards for themselves tend to be very attractive to high quality people. What kind of people are you attracting?

During an opening keynote address to a CMAA conference Dr. Ronan Tynan said “If you like yourself, you’ll like them.” You might argue that you can like yourself and still not like them, but if you like yourself and the standards you are living by you can allow them to be who they are without putting your energy into not liking them.  If you are living with high personal standards you will attract some amazing people into your life.

As leaders of clubs you are being watched. The standards you set are there to give you the life you choose to lead but they are also serving as an example for all of those people who are watching.

What are your personal standards like in the following areas?

The way you dress.
The language you use.
Your vocabulary you use.
The way you talk to yourself.

The way you treat people.
The way you expect to be treated by others.
The cleanliness and order of your physical environments.
The maintenance and repair of your things.
The way you reward or treat yourself.

The way you take care of your health.
The way you take care of your teeth, your nails, your hair, your breath.
The way you show gratitude for the efforts of others.
The way you pay your bills or make good on debts.
The way you handle money.

The way you value yourself.
The way you ensure your long-term success.
The way you communicate.
The way you ensure that you do what you say you will do.

These are some examples of areas that we can look at to question the level of our own standards. If your standards are low in some of these areas I hope you can see how that can impact your success in your job and in your life. If your standards are high, see if you can take them even higher. Take communication as an example. As a coach I am a professional communicator, as a leader of people you are a professional communicator, yet it is such a complex skill that sometimes we miss the mark in our communication. If we set a standard for ourselves to be continually learning and focusing on the skill, we  still fall short at times but not as dramatically as we would if our desire to hit our high personal standard wasn’t there.

My wish for you is that you see the role that the standards you choose play in the size and quality of what you experience in this game of life.   I challenge you to play a big, exciting and inspirational game!

Kevin MacDonald is the coach for CMAA. Sign up for a coaching session or sign up for the Club Managers Coaching Newsletter at

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