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Success tip: Set your own high standards

The personal standards you set for yourself, whether low or high, will determine your career success or failure.


Recorded 21 May 2020. Posted 14 July 2020.

After nearly 60 years, I still remember some of the Religious Education that we had at primary school. Such is the power of the Bible.

One such quote is “Whatever your hand turns to, do it with thy might.” However, as I found just now when checking, I was incorrect in recalling it as being in Proverbs.

It is actually Ecclesiastes 9:10 “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” King James Version.

While I am sure that there are other causes beyond that one Religious Education lesson, I have always sought to live by this principle.

As a trainee accountant, I was taught how to prepare manual working paper records of clients' bank accounts and reconcile them to the client’s bank statements. I can still remember the first client where, after several attempts at eliminating the error, the bank reconciliation was still incorrect by 2p and I had to write off the difference with the approval of the office manager. The write-off was immaterial, but I still felt a sense of failure.

Occasionally such perfectionism is inefficient, and can cause your superiors to criticise your work. In general however, setting very high standards for yourself is conducive to your career progression, and managers appreciate having such staff.

A recent example

On 21 May I was asked the following by LDCRE (Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality)

“Our Chair of LDCRE Roderick Lynch would greatly appreciate an Eid Message from you to put out on our twitter feed.  Please send me your full name and your title; you may wish to include that you were the former chair of Conservative Muslim Forum.

Please film your piece in landscape. Please make it a 40 second clip.

Please include a message of peace and solidarity and also keeping safe under lockdown on Eid day.

This will be part of the messages from Lib Dem peers and MPs.”

What to say?

The first challenge from the brief was deciding how I could fit the required messages into a 40-second video.

The final text I composed is lower down on this page.

How to record it?

By now, I have had a small amount of experience at recording videos on my iPhone. Accordingly, in both of my residences I have a floor tripod, a desk tripod, and a smartphone grip.

While it is easy for highly experienced people to record a video with one take, I find it very difficult.

The short time allowance means that you cannot afford to add any words to your script while speaking. Conversely if you forget to say something, that can also ruin your message.

Looking away from the camera to remind yourself of the script also reduces the quality of the recording.

Technology helps, in that the whole 40 seconds does not have to be spoken at once.

You can speak a few words, and then pause for as long as you like, since such pauses can be removed if you have learned how to edit videos. (For the importance of lifelong learning, see my page “Force yourself to keep learning.”

Unfortunately, recording in my study, and in two different locations in my living room, failed to produce a satisfactory result in terms of lighting and background. Eventually, I used my dining room. My wife's help, providing instant feedback and holding the script in the line of the camera was invaluable.

Deciding on the best take and removing the pauses mentioned above was not too difficult.

The next challenge was adding a caption. I was not sure if LDCRE wanted a caption, so decided to supply both a captioned recording and one without a caption. I also became ambitious and did one version with a static caption and one with a scrolling caption since that allowed me to be described in greater detail.

To achieve this, I had to learn how to create a caption using my video editing software; something I had never done before.

To ensure that I got the colour of the caption bar right, I went to the Liberal Democrats website and downloaded the style guide to learn the RGB values of the shade of yellow that the Liberal Democrats use.

I estimate that over five hours, ending about 05:30 on 22 May (to meet the deadline of noon that day), were spent producing a 29-second video, partly because I had to learn how to do the video captioning.

The end result can be watched below.

I still need to learn how to look cheerful while recording! It is difficult because you are concentrating so hard.

I was however delighted the following day when I saw the Eid tweet issued by LDCRE. That tweet shared a video which combined my piece with those from many prominent Liberal Democrats. Despite my being a relatively new grassroots member, my video led the recording!

I am sure that the effort I put into producing the highest quality that I am capable of had something to do with being selected to introduce the video, being followed by Sir Ed Davey MP and others.

You can see the full LDCRE Eid video in the embedded tweet below.

#EidMubarak #EidAlFitr to you all. @Mohammed_Amin @RabinaKhan @EdwardJDavey @libdemdaisy @LaylaMoran @LorelyBurt @meralhece @RichardNewby3 @CarolinePidgeon @LibDems @LeenaSFarhat @thedoctorkhan @anton_georgiou @juliacambridge1 @SiobhanBenita @markpack

— Lib Dem Campaign for Race Equality (@LDCRE1) May 23, 2020

The other reason I have no regrets about spending the large amount of time creating the video is that I learned so much during the process. Both about doing the recording, and about the editing, including learning how to better use my video editing software.

My script

A close reading of my script below will show how I focused on religious inclusiveness, rather than having a “Muslim only” message, and how I emphasised the Islamic rationale for observing the lockdown and social distancing.

This ties back into my recent page "Learn to refine your message."

Eid Mubarak, or in English, a happy and blessed Eid to all my Muslim and non-Muslim friends.

We should celebrate the festivals of all our neighbours, regardless of religion, since joy should be shared.

This Eid will be a unique experience.

Islam requires us to preserve our lives.

That is why this will be the very first Eid of my life where I attend online Eid prayers, and where I visit none of my family or friends.


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