You expect from yourself. You live up to your expectations - Great. If not, then ..
You expect from others. They live up to your expectations - Great. If not, then ..
Others expect from you. You live up to their expectations - Great. If not, then ..
Expectations are important as they give us a purpose, direction and meaning to life. But who teaches us what to expect, how much to expect and how to deal with times when things don't go as per expectations?
A few years ago, I was part of my first ever high school re-union. It was a great experience and was wonderful to see how far we have all come since we stepped out of school. There were doctors, lawyers, dancers, journalists, jewelry designers, entrepreneurs, technologists, teachers.... There was one conversation which I had which stayed with me.
She: Looking back, I don't know if I have really lived up to my potential
Me: Why do you say so?
She: Hmm.. well! Because I felt all through school years no one expected anything of me or from me at school or at home. At school, I was average in everything and that was OK with me and the school. At home, my family also didn't really expect anything from me apart from going to college and getting a degree"
She: After college, I got married . Soon became a mom. And then life changed fully! Maybe if someone expected me to do something more - life could have take a different course!
Expectations matter as do not having expectations! They have real implications on choices, decisions and life!
As a parent, I have had many conversations with other parents (of all ages) on what to expect from kids. A lot of parents say that they don't expect anything from their kids (I wonder why?). Many of them hypothesize that the kids anyways won't do this that and the other, so why expect? (How do you know for sure if you don't give them a chance?). They say all this in front of their kids - so the kids are listening and absorbing and internalizing!
At a future point in time, the kids don't do something the parents expect. The parents feel terribly upset and disappointed (I wonder why when they almost asked for it)
As a parent, I do have expectations from my kids on things that are important. I am extremely vocal and clear about it, so there is no ambiguity! Whether they live up to these expectations, only time will tell. But at least, they know!
Clear articulation of expectations is extremely important! More so in relationships which are important to you.
Expectations affect the course and growth of every relationship - personal (parent - child [for e.g: listening with full attention], husband - wife [for e.g: being there when you need each other], sibling, friend, family) or professional (boss [for e.g: an appreciation for work well done], team member [for e.g: collaborating on work projects], company [for e.g.: an annual raise], or any other). Some of these expectations are explicit and some are implicit.
If you expect something from someone and they live up to your expectations - then it positively influences trust and that strengthens your relationship and growth.
If you expect something from someone and they don't live up to your expectations - then it weakens your relationship and progress.
Personal experiences are critical in what others expect of you and from you!
So what happens when things don't go as per expectations? There is almost always some anger, disappointment, sadness, bitterness, confusion and a burning need to know Why?
Everyone has different ways to deal with these situations. It is very personal and subjective. Some find ways to take the lessons and forge ahead wiser. Some just drown.
If I look back at my own life, one of the main reasons for the low and dark moments was my inability to deal with times when things didn't go as per expectations. That can affect personal / professional relationships, self confidence, learning, growth, productivity, progress, creativity and success.
Our approach and ability to deal with times when things don't go as per expectations is a journey. It is very personal, is constantly evolving and almost always defines us.
I have met and interacted with a lot of people who have very high expectations of themselves. Over a period of time this tends to result in stress, health issues and a need to always be on the move.
Some others have no real expectations of themselves. Over a period of time this tends to result in depression or a lack of will to live and experience life.
So, having some expectations of yourself is possibly and probably good for you!
As a parting thought, wouldn't it be nice to know what and how much to expect of ourselves and others? How to deal with times when things don't go as per expectations (and there will be many of these in life?
What are your thoughts & reflections? Leave a comment below.
Nischala is the Global Marketing Head at Wipro. She is a new age marketer who enjoys work which has a jazz and bass of logic, creativity and making a global impact. She is also an advisor / mentor with several global initiatives involving startups, technology consortia and #WomenAtWork communities. Her expertise is to craft and design high impact marketing strategies for emerging and high growth technology areas like blockchain, AI, next generation solutions. She believes the equation to marketing success is moving the dot from mind-share to market-share to profit-share. Her claim to fame is being among India's 2017 Top 100 Brand & Content Custodians, a TEDx talk, being among Twitterati and featuring in several global "Best in blogging" lists. Nischala holds an MBA from IIM Bangalore. You can follow her on Twitter @nimu9