Have you ever heard someone say, “raise the bar”? You probably know that statement simply means “do better or try harder”. We have heard it said by our sports coaches, teachers, parents and even our business mentors. When hearing that statement “raise the bar”, we always pictured one bar, the upper bar. But recently our mind was opened to the fact that there is more than one bar. There is an upper bar and there is also a lower bar.

Upper Bar: This is where you are truly being your best. You are operating at a standard of excellence!

Lower Bar: This is where you are unfocused or off track. You are operating way below your potential.

So a good question to think about when it comes to your upper and lower bar is … How good do things have to get ( your upper bar) before you start slacking off or self-sabotaging and stop doing what you need to do? Or how bad do things have to get (your lower bar) before you start scrambling to get your act together?

Still confused? Let’s use money as an example!

Financial Limits

It’s easy to describe this using money.

Upper Limit: How much money needs to be in your checking account before you start feeling comfortable and spend more?

Lower Limit: How low does your account balance get before you start budgeting and desperately saving money.

For instance, if your upper limit is $10,000, you’ll naturally start spending more when you reach that amount. If your lower limit is $1,000, when your account balance comes close to that number you start freaking out about how to save money and increase your balance. This means that your limit window is from $10,000 – $1,000.

Some people have what we call a negative lower bar, which means that their lower bar goes into the negatives. In financial terms, this is the amount of debt a person will acquire before they start taking action to improve their financial situation. If someone allows themselves to have a negative financial lower bar, it will be very hard for them to get out of debt. On the other hand, if someone refuses to have a negative financial lower bar, they will easily be able to stay debt free!

These limit windows don’t just exist in your bank account though. They come into play in many areas of your life.

Limit Windows in Life

There are many factors that come into play when thinking about the standards you set for your life. Think about your relationships, your health, and your ability to stay organized and on top of your various responsibilities. Here’s how we would define the upper and lower limits in terms of life.

Upper Bar / Limit

  • Relationships: How good do things get before you start getting lazy with communication, service, effort, etc., and relationships begin to decline? 
  • Health: How good do you need to feel before you begin to skip the gym, skip your vitamins, or eat junk food? 
  • Organization: How organized does your home, bills, and schedule get before you start slacking?

Lower Bar / Limit

  • Relationships: How bad do your relationships get before you start putting in more effort or making changes to improve things? 
  • Health: How unhealthy do you let yourself become before you decide to start dieting and exercising consistently? 
  • Organization: How chaotic will you let your life become before you start cleaning, organizing, and planning?

Limit Windows in Business

Just like in the many parts of life, you also have a limit window within your business. Understanding where you are at in your business limit window is crucial to the overall success of your business. What standards have you set for your business activity? Do you have good habits that are creating good results, or have you gotten off track? Is it time to raise the bar?

Raising the Bar

I used to think that “raising the bar” only meant raising the “upper bar”. Of course, shooting for the stars is always a great thing, but it won’t change your life as much as raising the lower bar. Raising your lower bar is a GAME CHANGER.

When you have too big of a gap between your upper and lower bar, it creates chaos. The highs are a great place be, but if the lows are too low it can be painful and destructive to go up and down between those two bars. When you raise lower bars, it closes the gap of your limit windows. This means you don’t allow yourself to drop as low as you did before. Raising the lower bar allows you to make corrections sooner which ensures things never get too bad in any area of your life or business.

Mind Your Windows

Keep in mind, aiming for excellence is great, but increasing your lower limits is critical. We must challenge our standards. We must increase our rock bottom and make it unacceptable to let ourselves get too low in any area of life. Raising your lower bars and closing the gap on your limit windows will take away so much stress and will allow you to become much more consistent and productive!

We operate our business and our lives within small limit windows. We never let things get too bad before we correct them. If you look closely at your life, you’ll see your upper and lower limits, and the size of your limit windows. Do your best to remind yourself of your upper and lower limits. Have your lower limits gotten lower over time, or have they increased?

Understanding your lower bar is the first step.

The next step is taking control of your life and making the choice to raise your lower bars!

Raise the bar! We know you can do it!


  1. Mike Condensa

    This is one of the best teachings and success principles I have ever applied. Thank you David for taking things to another level and sharing one of the strongest success principles to date. What a true way to become better and better each and every day. When I worked with professional baseball athletes, this concept had to be applied everyday or you’d never make it to the big leagues. This is just flat out amazing!!

  2. Linda Tennies

    This is transforming the way I see goals and goal setting. Thank you both for this insightful idea!

  3. Ann Parker

    This is a great blog! A “must read” often! Thank you David and Jaimee for always thinking of ways to help us all move forward. Definitely raising the bar in 2023!!!

  4. Julie Beck

    Such great principles here, so excited to keep raising my lower bar. Thank you for such amazing insight.

  5. Christopher Mychajluk

    One of the best writings on raising the bar I have ever read. Introducing the lower bar idea and decreasing the window size between them is outstanding!


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