Some of you may be dreading/hoping I will be providing a deep insight based upon the novel Great Expectations, but alas, I am merely using it too draw you in. Actually, I will be diving into a thought I had this week in a conversation about self-confidence and success/failure. The underlying premise of the discussion was that I am not sure how much of a person’s success is because of self-confidence as opposed to not wanting to be dependent upon the success of someone else to succeed and having the ability to accept failure if they are in control. My convoluted point was that they may not be more confident in themselves, rather they are able to handle personal failure so they just naturally take charge so that they control their own destiny. Then it struck me, maybe that IS self-confidence after all…not assured of success, but unafraid of failure.
This then led me to a second thought about expectations. I have always heard sayings like “with big risk comes big reward”, “shoot for the stars”, and “dream the impossible dream”, and they sound appealing and motivating. However, I am not sure that setting great or high expectations is necessarily beneficial. I have seen many cases where setting high expectations led to a debilitating stress on an otherwise talented and confident individual, simply because the expectation of their performance made them start to push to meet it. Then a misstep occurs, they start to question themselves and either start pushing even harder or, if unable to withstand the stress, collapsing in on themselves.
My point is set goals, not expectations. Goals allow you to focus on doing the things you know to do and staying in the moment. Expectations force you to attain a level of success in order to meet a level of acceptability. Goals promote success while expectations underscore failure. Allow others to have expectations of your performance, but allow yourself to ignore them. Focus on the basics that have taken you where you are, pursue your goals, and remember that it is a marathon not a sprint. Don’t allow the expectations by yourself or others to paint an inaccurate picture of the person you know a you are. Rather use them as a motivator when you have been underestimated.