Why You Can't Live Without High Expectations

Jan 17 2014, 8:07pm CST | by

Why You Can't Live Without High Expectations

The dirty little secret about expectations is that whether internal or external, we tend to meet the expectations set for us.

I love the story of Minnesota educator, Lois Beckel. When asked what the “magic” was in getting a group of toddlers to nap together on mats at the same time, she explained, “We hold out the expectation that they will.”

When I spoke with Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders about the role of expectations in her gold medal career, she said, “I knew that to become an Olympian, I had to expect a high level of performance and dedication from myself, and it was those expectations that motivated me through years of training to achieve my dream.”

Expectations don’t only impact results at work, they play a critical role on the home front too. Many women strive for healthy work life management yet find that their partners consistently fall short when it comes to sharing the housework and the childcare. While some of this is predetermined based on the personalities and the models these men were raised with, much of it comes down to their wives’ behavior. The women in these scenarios are afflicting their spouses with low expectations.

Last week family friends came for a visit and arrived in separate cars. The dad left first and mentioned that he would be stopping at the supermarket to pick up milk on the way home.  “Do you want me to get the rest of your list too?” he asked his wife. “Oh no, that would be such a pain for you.” she replied.

If we expect so little of our spouses, how can we blame them when they fall short in their contributions?

If your son was in the room, you wouldn’t dare say, “Aiden would never eat broccoli.” Because then he never would. Why then do so many women say,  “My husband would never change a diaper.” It practically guarantees that he won’t.

Many women approach me to say how lucky I am that my husband helps out so much. My expectation upon meeting him was that he would be a true partner and he has met that expectation. He has similarly high expectations of me. Luck has little to do with it.

As a junior athlete playing competitive tennis, I was trained to always have high expectations. It meant that if I was playing an opponent who was better than me, I wouldn’t dream of going on the court without expecting to win. We were taught that a champion says, “I will win.” Never, “I might win.”

When I asked Memphis Grizzlies CEO Jason Levien about the role of expectations in his organization, he said, “Setting high expectations has been a critical part of establishing our culture. They define our direction and create a sense of urgency around our mission.”

At the office, on the court, at home and even in health, expectations have an impact. In a recent study of patients receiving acupuncture for chronic illnesses, the treatment of those with high expectations of the results experienced significantly better outcomes than those with lower expectations.

So whether it is yourself, your team or your partner, you have more power than you might think in changing the outcome. Aim high and achieve higher.

Samantha Ettus is the leading work life management expert for women. She is an entrepreneur, bestselling author, radio host and speaker. Connect with her at @samanthaettus.

Source: Forbes Business


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