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Entrepreneurship Development: Setting your standards (II)

Last week in this series, we introduced what setting personal standards is, how our personal standards are antecedent to our long run successes and the…

Last week in this series, we introduced what setting personal standards is, how our personal standards are antecedent to our long run successes and the scope of choices on which we should set our standards. We will today begin to take up how we can determine and set our personal standards.

The essence of determining and setting personal standards is to build a way of life that gives us honour, peace of mind, makes us productive in what we do to ourselves, and to others as well as in helping others achieve the most they can. This will involve three interlinked, yet reasonably distinct activities as follows:

1. Continuous personal development to know what is right and what is wrong as well as to know what to do and what not to do, what to accept from others and what not to accept!

2. Delivery of what we can do in a way that is efficient, honourable and result-oriented.

3. Helping to develop other people.

On the basis of the above, we can posit as follows:

The extent and quality of our continuous personal development + The quality of what we do to others + Our willingness and ability to continuously help develop others + The quality of what we accept from others = Our long-run success (or failure)

How do we set our standards? To understand our options and breadth in setting our standards, we need to understand our spheres of control. Basically, there are internal and external loci of control. The internal sphere of control comprises all those dimensions of choice on which we have reasonably free and volitional control. The external sphere of control, on the other hand, comprises all those dimensions of choice that are outside our immediate and volitional control. As we shall see later, depending on the mix of other individuals, dimensions of choice and situations, we may have a certain level of control in the external sphere. Below is a schematic of the two major spheres of control.

Directly controllable factors: The schematic above shows some of the factors that are directly controllable by us within sphere ‘Z’. It is completely, for instance, within our control, how we choose to groom and present ourselves to others. It is also entirely within our control how dogged we can be on any matter we are in pursuit of, etc. Beyond these two, we can and should choose to set our standards along the following dimensions:  

· Consciously motivating ourselves,

· How to spend our time, on what and with whom,

· How to always develop ourselves in areas such as our education, health management, etc.,

· How to earn our livelihood, which activities are honourable and which we should completely rule out, as well as how to invest our money and how to spend it,

· How to treat others with respect,

· Positively critiquing ourselves and being continuous learners,

· Congratulating ourselves and being grateful for both our efforts and results,

· What to accept from others and what not to accept, etc.

Uncontrollable factors: There are factors, within sphere ‘X’, that are outside our direct volitional control. For instance,  

· It is of our experience in life that what others know and do can bear on what we are trying to achieve. But what others know or choose to do may be suboptimal and less than our expectations.

· The work ethics and level of commitment of others can also affect what we are trying to do with them. Again, this is within the scope of their choice and depending on who they are, can be less than what we need from them to achieve our own goals.  

Interestingly and thankfully, depending on several factors, we may be in a position to help others know what they need to know and improve their standards for what they are trying to do. Such ‘external’ factors and situations that we can alter fall within what we can call indirectly controllable factors.

Indirectly controllable factors: Whilst others might have the freedom on how to do what is within their rights to do, we can actually help them do better whenever they seem to be on some wrong pathway or where they may be doing the right things but at less than par. We can also refuse to accept substandard jobs, actions and behaviours. When Chief Awolowo told the Prime Minister’s (PM’s) personal secretary that he (Chief Awolowo) ‘cannot and will not wait’ for another hour, Chief Awolowo was living a standard he had for himself as well as setting it in the subconscious of others he was dealing with, in this case, the PM, the PM’s personal secretary, as well as the whole State House. It was great. Similarly, as we said the PM showed honour and grace by making an immediate effort to visit and hold the meeting at the convenience of Chief Awolowo. It was great, too.

Indirect control of factors is about us doing what we can rightly and legitimately do to move others and what they do from the sections outside of our control marked ‘X’ in the schematic above to the space within our control marked ‘Y’. It can be through enlightenment, moral suasion, support, etc.

I once had a great salesman. As they say, he could sell ice to the Eskimos. But my great salesman was terrible at keeping records. I think he even hated it. All my entreaties fell on deaf ears. I sent him on training on Customer Service that had great modules on record-keeping and its benefits. Our great salesman became a champion in record-keeping. Our desire and standards for keeping records were satisfied and met.  

We will conclude this series next week by taking up specific ways we can set and build our standards as well as influence others along the various dimensions of choice, some of which we have listed above under controllable, uncontrollable and indirectly controllable factors. We will also take up the two major features of setting standards for ourselves.