Amazon Teaches High Standards


“I believe high standards are teachable.” says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in his 2018 annual letter to shareholders.

He believes both high and low standards are contagious and new people will quickly adapt to the prevailing standard.

I feel like it’s our desire to fit in to the group that makes them contagious.

Jeff Bezos — Amazon Press Photo

Is it easy to see high standards?

Almost all of us will say we have high standards and that’s probably true most of the time. However, we might have some areas of low standards without being aware of it.

Maybe it’s because we don’t see the value of a thing therefore we see a standard as irrelevant. Perhaps it’s a lack of knowledge or skill and we consider our best attempt to be a high standard.

It’s important to note that our perspective will influence the bar for our standards and they will not be the same for everybody.

For example, a do it yourself renovator will not achieve the standards of a professional contractor. A college athlete will not achieve the standards of an olympic athlete.

This doesn’t mean they have low standards or lack pride in their results. They are simply operating on a different scale.

Can we teach ourselves higher standards?

Like Amazon, we need to achieve our high standards by surrounding ourselves with other people who have standards as high, or higher, than our own.

You can’t determine if a person or organization has high standards simply by asking them. You need to observe them in action, particularly when they think nobody is watching, to know for sure.

I agree with Jeff Bezos that high standards are both teachable and learnable. I also feel we have the responsibility to set up an environment where our standards can and will elevate to another level.

The real trick to progression lies in being able to maintain and raise our standards in environments where low standards are the accepted norm.

Stay aware of your perspective and your environment as you progress forward in whatever you’re doing.

Have you ever wound up in an environment where the standards were significantly higher or lower than your own? How did you deal with the situation? Leave a comment below.

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