Over the last few years I have noticed how serious the impact is when we live to the expectations we set for ourselves or take in from others. I have observed outstanding individuals excelling to heights never achieved before, as they continued to achieve and reset to achieve more. Unfortunately, I have also witnessed people who allow family, friends or coworkers to proclaim negative expectations that lead them to a victim’s mentality and very unhappy life.

“If you accept the expectations of others, especially negative ones, then you never will change the outcome.” – Michael Jordan

At the age of four, my grandmother noticing how passionate I was at wanting to sit for hours plunking on the keys of her piano, decided to have my grandfather push their spinet piano down the street to our home so I could learn to practice and play to my heart’s content. Once I learned how to read music, I was self taught and requested by my parents to play whenever anyone came to the house. I loved playing and they loved listening, and I always knew I had a unique talent… all because my grandmother’s expectation to see me excel.

“Our children can achieve great things when we set high expectations for them.” – Jeb Bush

Because I was tall for my age, when I entered kindergarten, the principal and my parents decided after two weeks, I would fit in better in first grade… and even there I was the tallest girl in the class. Entering junior high a year younger then my classmates, I was told I was selected to be in one of the highest achievers program. My History and English teacher set the bar with the statement, “you are so privileged to be a part of a group of very talented and gifted achievers… in others words, you are the ‘smart kids’ who will go far in life.”

Talk about setting expectations? We all worked very hard for straight A’s and taking college prep courses charting our future course with dreams for scholarships to the most prestigious institutions.

“Make each day count by setting specific goals to succeed, then putting forth every effort to exceed your own expectations.” – Les Brown

On the flip side, I had negative expectations set by family, friends and peers with statements of, “you’ll never amount to anything… you’re too lazy… you’ll never be a success because you don’t have the experience or proper schooling… you’re too old to run a marathon.” In spite of these statements, my inner conscious, drive, and confidence refused to believe these naysayers and only fueled me on to keep running my race and not settle for anything less.

“You can’t base your life on other people’s expectations.” – Stevie Wonder

“I have high expectations of myself. I always have, always will. That will never waver. I always believe in my talent – always have.” – Russell Wilson

What Are Your Expectations?

It is often said that people will live up to the expectations we have for them as well as the one we set for ourselves. As parents, spouses, managers and leaders of organizations, have you taken an inventory of the expectations you think and voice to yourselves and to those in your personal and professional lives?

“There’s strong data that, within companies, the No. 1 reason for ethical violations is the pressure to meet expectations, sometimes unrealistic expectations.” – Stephen Covey

Be Proactive and Self Assess
  1. Self assess and write out positive phrases/expectations for yourself in your personal and professional life. Don’t allow your current or previous beliefs to limit you. Disregard those “habitually negative norms” and focus on your newly developed statements.
  2. Consider three people in your personal life, (children, spouse, siblings) and write positive phrases for each, not based on current or previous behaviors, but on exemplary behaviors that would help you see them in a new light.
  3. Now, consider three people in your professional life, (boss, coworkers, or subordinates) and write positive phrases for each following the same criteria in step one.
  4. Place what you have written in a convenient place and commit to read it daily for several weeks especially prior to interacting with these individuals.
  5. Take note of the changes that occur, how it impacts your conversations, interactions and results. Be prepared to add to your list as you experience breakthroughs stretching yourself and belief in others to new positive heights.
“Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations.” – Ryunosuke Satoro