Standards are great tools to get people to move past something mundane and to fix the number of variable parameters so that we can move forward with things, and build upon what have been decided. Civilisations are made of standards, one step at a time. When the “First Emperor of China” (Qin Shi Huang) unified the bunch of squabbling tribes and formed the Qin dynasty, he started to develop standards which helped not only to unify large swathes and number of people in China but allowed more trade and innovation to blossom.

He standardised the currency units and denomination (they were in silver), standardised the length of axles between wheels on carts (thereby also allowing the government to build road infrastructure which were uniform and standard), ensured units of measurement were uniform in the lands where he ruled. Most importantly, he unified the writing system of Chinese at that point and eliminated variant symbols or ways of writing the same character. This laid an important foundation for the script of Chinese characters up till the modern day.

One may say he produced the standards in order to rule more effectively; others may consider his ability to produce standards to be rooted in his monopoly power as the state, especially one that was formed through de facto power. While one may argue a different length of axle, or a different way of standardising the Chinese characters would have been better; or one may dispute the selfish motive of Qin Shi Huang, one cannot ignore the fact that standards are important building blocks to help one move forward and further.

Same for our personal lives; if we can develop standards that helps us not waste our willpower on the small things, the ones that are insignificant or unimportant, then we can save our horsepower to run greater distances.


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