Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Lure of Low Expectations

Successful people don’t start an endeavor, any endeavor, anticipating failure. They want to win. They prepare to win. They expect to win. In sports, it’s pretty black and white. There can only be one winner, but they don’t count themselves out. They press on. In life, winning is often not as clearly defined. Often, we can make our own definitions. We can decide what winning will look like for us. Yet, we still have to want, prepare and expect to win. And it all starts with the expectation.

It breaks my heart and boils my blood when people expect to fail. Part of the reason, I chose to call my business Lose the Excuses because all too often people use excuses to bolster their expectation of failure. I was having a discussion with a young man who accepted, as a foregone conclusion, that he was going to end up in jail at some point or another. He didn’t think there was anything he could do about it.

He had no expectation of a life that didn’t involve time in the penal system. As a result, he didn’t really want anything different. He was resigned and accepting of his fate. It was just a matter of time.

Low or no expectations become a self-fulfilling prophesy. Every setback, every discouragement, and every negative occurrence becomes proof. It serves as a confirmation that they ‘couldn’t do it anyway.’ Their definition of success includes a very dangerous word, easy. If it isn’t easy, it isn’t meant to be. People with low expectations see obstacles as permanent blockades too high, too deep and too wide to overcome.


Low expectations take people 'off the hook.' You don't have to do anything. There are little to no actions to take. There are no preparations to make. It is easy! Yet, the cost of that ease is high.

Those with higher expectations don’t have rose-colored glass naivete. They accept that there will be setbacks, discouragements and negative occurrences. The difference is that they see them as hurdles to be overcome. The word easy is not in their vocabulary.

More shocking still is how generational low expectations can be. They are passed down tragically from parent and child, resulting in entire communities that don’t have much of anything and don’t expect much more.

Breaking the cycle first involves being bold enough to expect something different, to want something more. The second step is to eliminate the notion of easy, accepting that change is difficult, but at the end of the day, worth it. Third, once the mindset is in place, prepare and plan for the change, including a plan for setbacks.

What does winning look like for you? What are you prepared to do to win?

2 comments:

BLUEBUTTERFLY said...

How true and timely. So many people equate expectations with designer goods, but have zero self-esteem. Most, are erratic about the present and future, even when they have the best education. So many are double-minded with even the minor decisions, that setting any goal is an impossiblity and a life of "anything goes" becomes a pattern.

I hope your message is taken to heart.

Lose the Excuses said...

We put way too much emphasis on 'what' we have. We don't put nearly enough into character who we are.

Anything goes is a dangerous pattern and I think, tragically, too many people have fallen into it.