What does it mean to "reach higher"? The phrase suggests going beyond the ordinary or doing much better than mediocre. Excellence certainly fits too. Any discussion of reaching higher would be incomplete without at least one example. Several years ago, I was in charge of a team in a large military exercise. Over the three days or so, we ran through our paces both literally and figuratively as we worked to meet operational challenges in a simulated war-time environment. During this period, my respect grew for one team member in particular as he seemed to do better the harder the scenario. When the rest of us struggled to keep going, this individual would find creative solutions that helped us to keep making progress. He seemed unstoppable! Our results were heavily influenced by one person both in what he did and what he influenced us to do to accomplish our goals. I have never forgotten how this team member dug deep into himself and pulled more than his weight in our hard circumstances.

How about you? How is the reaching-higher quotient in recent memory? In your heart of hearts, do you know you are setting an example of excellence? Are you adding more value than your wage reflects? Do you go above and beyond the standard in your personal relationships? What makes the difference in succeeding at this higher-than-average standard? Here are some possibilities.

1. Be the decider of your attitude in spite of circumstances. "That person makes me so mad." Really? Does he/she have mind control? We are products of our own choices. While this can be challenging after a night of too little sleep because a baby crying or spouse with a nagging cough, this can also be inspiring when we firmly take control. If you want a better day, approach it making the best of whatever life hands out and you will find yourself becoming a people magnet.

2. Focus on those things in your control. It is easy to grow overly concerned with those things outside our control (anybody frustrated with too much rain last month?). And yet, if we stop and think about it, this is a guaranteed path to frustration: thinking too much about what we cannot change is futile. Instead, ask what is in the area of control and seek to make positive changes there. Both the focus and postive results feed on themselves in a good way.

3. When pinched for time, choose relationships over stuff. Recently, I was working feverishly on the yard because it was overdue and I planned to leave in the early afternoon to meet my young sons whom I had not seen for about a week. The progress was slower than expected and so my frustration grew. As it became obvious I would fall short of my goal, I seriously considered delaying my arrival time to meet the boys in order to make more headway with the yard (and reach my goal). Imagine my embarrassment as I realized I was actually debating between cutting more grass with the weedeater versus seeing my family. It seems silly now. In reality, many of our professional decisions can fall into this scenario too. What choice will you make?

Author's Bio: 

Michael Friesen is the owner of Leading Strategies, a firm dedicated to coaching concierge medical groups and other service organizations to build high performance teams (www.LeadingStrategies.net). Mike is a retired military officer, fighter pilot, former CFO, and holds a M.B.A. with Strategic Leadership emphasis. Michael is also the author of "Expected End: What Culture Is, Why It Matters, and How to Improve It." You are invited to follow Leading Strategies on Twitter at @LSTeams.