I was a C student in school. Whether it was grade school, junior high or high school, C’s were “good enough” (a common term in my vocabulary). C’s meant that I was average and average was always good enough for me.

But, even though I outwardly boasted that I was fine being academically average, I knew deep down that my C’s weren’t because of a lack of intellect; they were because of a lack of EFFORT.

That all changed in the summer of 2001, after my junior year of college at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (Go Badgers!). I had barely gotten the grades and ACT score necessary to get into the University and was still firmly content being “good enough.” However, I was also paying my way through college and even I was smart enough to realize that my student loans weren’t going to magically evaporate after I got my degree. At some point I needed to get serious.

That summer I took Experimental Psychology, a notoriously tough 8-week, 5-credit class that is required for all Psychology majors. GOOD students usually got a B or worse in that class, which meant that if I gave my usual half-ass effort, I was going to be in serious trouble.

I’m not sure if this is what triggered it, but I clearly remember waking up one day before class had started and flipping a switch. I consciously said to myself:

“Scott, you’re paying a lot of money to be average. You’re paying a lot of money to get C’s! Aren’t you BETTER than that??? Shouldn’t you demand more of yourself and have higher personal standards?”

I knew I was coasting and I didn’t want to do it anymore. I was fed up.

At that moment, everything changed. It was the kick-start I needed. I got an A-B in Experimental Psychology, nothing but A’s and B’s in my last year at Wisconsin, then went onto graduate school and got almost straight A’s.

It was my first realization that our standards are the ceiling for everything we do. We’re never going to Outperform them. Higher levels of performance stem from higher standards.

So, as we launch into 2019, the starting point to enhancing ANY area of your life is to take a good, honest look at your own personal standards. At Outperform The Norm, I typically break these down into three different areas: High Performance, Health and Happiness.


This is professional (could be athletic, too) and is how you do your job. Potential standard-bearing questions:

– How do you measure your productivity?
– What is your level of focus?
– Are you disciplined to your most important (not urgent) tasks?
– Do you help others raise their game?
– What is the consistent level of effort you’re giving daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly?
– Are you paid what you’re worth?


This is how you take care of the beautiful machine that is the human body. Potential standard-bearing questions:

– What are your exercise habits?
– How do you approach nutrition? Hydration?
– Are you happy with the way you look and feel?
– How do you manage stress?
– Do you live in chronic pain?
– What is the quality and quantity of sleep you get each night?


This is your general attitude and level of fulfillment in your life as a whole. Potential standard-bearing questions:

– What attitude do you bring every day?
– Do you serve others and contribute beyond yourself?
– How often do you laugh? Experience joy?
– What is the quality of your relationships?
– Are you fulfilled with what you’re doing?
– How is your spiritual life?

Please know, it’s not my place to tell you what your standards should be. That’s your choice and yours alone. But I’ve never seen someone (myself included!) that hasn’t been able to ask these questions and recognize that they could raise their game in at least one of the areas. It’s a great gauge and barometer for all of us as we strive to OUTPERFORM in the new year.

Best of Health, Happiness and High Performance,