OGP #ThrowbackThursday: Power of Expectation

As youth, most of us begin reacting to others’ expectations of us before we fully form our expectations of ourselves. A key part of “growing up” is our formulation of the latter — what we expect of ourselves… My young life provided numerous examples of negative expectations, to which I reacted negatively, leading to disappointing results… Fortunately, there were also positive expectations, to which I usually reacted in ways of which I could be proud… Along the way, I realized that my own expectations — for myself — outweighed it all.

Negative Expectation, Disappointing Behavior

Okay, maybe not THIS bad 🙂

During my ninth grade year, a friend and I decided to cut a class. We got caught (surprise, surprise :-)). Before turning us in to the vice principal, the teacher of the class pulled my friend and I aside. He briefly surveyed us visually, then turned to my friend and said, “I expected more of you” … Whoa. I didn’t admit it at the time; but that comment, as well as that which went unsaid to me, cut deeply. As a coping mechanism, I checked out from that point on. To my own detriment, I found myself unable to absorb anything that guy said. Once football season was over, I skipped school altogether, on several occasions simply to avoid attending that class. I passed the class, because our grades were based solely on tests; and I typically did well on tests. Had class participation counted for anything, I would’ve been in trouble.

I’ll bet I know what you’re thinking 🙂 … My behavior, in this case, wasn’t great to begin with… While this is true, higher expectations may have helped me turn in the right direction. In support of my theory, I submit another example from the same time period.

Positive Expectation, Constructive Behavior

During the same school year, another of my teachers (my English teacher) and I got off to a rocky start. On the very first day of class, as he gave an overview of the course — and his expectations 🙂 — I whispered something to the kid next to me. I can’t remember what I whispered, or even to whom I whispered it; but I clearly remember what happened next. The teacher requested my immediate presence in the hallway. When we were in the hallway, he closed the door and had some choice words for me. I responded with some choice words of my own. He poked me in the chest, and I blew up. I don’t know if I could’ve handled him, physically, at that stage of my life; but I was certainly ready to try. Fortunately for all involved, he thought better of it and directed me to follow him to the vice principal’s office.

Yuh… At that time, at least in my hometown, teachers still hit kids on occasion. LOL, I know it’s terrible; but I have to laugh when I compare it to the way things are today. Can you imagine the backlash if a teacher called a student into the hallway today and poked him in the chest???

When we arrived at the vice principal’s office, the teacher informed the vice principal that he would not again have me in his class. The vice principal advised us both that his was the only English class available, so his class was the only option (LOL). I returned to his class the next day, kept my mouth shut, paid attention and did my assignments.

About one week into the class, we were given our first writing assignment. I did the assignment and handed it in, as instructed. When he returned our marked up papers, I was surprised to find constructive criticism as well as encouraging words. I was surprised on several fronts:

  • I assumed he hated my guts, and I assumed that matter of preference would dictate every interaction between us.
  • I never considered that I might have a talent/knack for any type of communication, written or otherwise.
  • Even though I still wasn’t certain whether he hated me or not, I felt an inexplicable desire to do an even better job on the next assignment… I had no idea what it would be, but I was looking forward to it. Up until that point, I’d NEVER looked forward to ANY school assignment.

When we were assigned the next paper, I worked with a craftsman’s mentality. My paper would represent what I’d learned and show what I could do — not only to him, but to myself, as well. When I got the paper back, I was surprised, yet again. There was constructive criticism followed by words that I can still envision today.

“I enjoy reading your work.” — by the first teacher that led me to take pride in my schoolwork.

I held my head high, and my chest grew a size that day… That was followed by yet another new notion……. I didn’t want to let him down. He had high expectations of me. I resolved to never disappoint him… To this day, there is nothing that drives me more than the desire to honor, with my best effort, those who place faith in me.

I wonder if Mr. Hazlett (sp) realized the magnitude these experiences had — and continue to have — on my life.

Expecting More of Ourselves

It’s great when people expect great things of us. It’s better, and even more powerful, when we expect great things of ourselves… By “expect”, I don’t simply mean “hope”. Expectation is about more than that. Expectation is also about vision. To truly expect something of ourselves, we need to put real thought intomake real plans for, and take actual steps toward our goals. To have high expectations of ourselves is not to kid ourselves.

Given this basis for expectations, we can still expect great achievement. Some of our plans may be fuzzy, as achievement is usually accompanied by learning new things. We can plan as we know how, take steps as we are able, learn and continue raising the bar.

If you are one who believes that high expectations set the stage for disappointment, consider whether the examples of expectations that bring this thought to your mind were heavy on aspiration, yet light on vision, planning and steps toward goals.

Expecting More of Those Who Seek Our Direction

I hope, at this point, that this is a no-brainer. If we truly want to help someone to achieve great things, we must make clear to them that we have high expectations. If we clarify what those expectations are, why we have them, and on what those expectations are based, we have much greater chances of helping those who seek our direction to reach their full potential.

” High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation” — Jack Kinder

Previous Throwback Thursday Posts


OGP #ThrowbackThursday: Mirror Mirror On The Wall

Be true to yourself. Don’t cheat yourself. Don’t be afraid to look in the mirror.

How many times have you heard these, or some variant of them? What do these mean to you? When did you first truly ask yourself — er, the mirror — “Who is the [insert self-affirming adjective here] one of all”? More importantly, when did you first take head of the answer, and what impact did it have on your life?

I recently had a very tough conversation with a beloved protege that led me to revisit this concept. It reminded me of a drastically different situation that caused me to do what I asked of her — to look in the mirror, be honest about what you see and, if you are not satisfied with what you see, be sincere in your actions to grow.

It sounds so simple. It actuality, it can be so hard. Sometimes it stings. When you are sincere, though, and you really want to grow, it’s always rewarding. Here’s my flashback…

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OGP #ThrowbackThursday: When did you begin to realize what makes you special?

As Jayson knows, I love me (LOL) some The Wire. The Corners concept is one I could talk about all day. Since it’s Throwback Thursday, I’m thinking about how this  concept became core to my outlook on life before I could recognize it for what it was. As I continue to grow, gain more perspective and become more purposeful about the direction of my life, I realize how core to my philosophy this concept has been.

When I was 8 years old, I signed up for youth football. In the days between mom signing my permission slip and the first day of practice, I revelled in visions of grandeur. I ran, not walked :-), just about everywhere I went during those days. As I ran, I saw myself juking defenders, breaking tackles and running for touchdown after touchdown… Oh yeah, I was just days away from becoming the world’s next football hero. Up to that point, everything I’d seen and heard about football told me that scoring touchdowns was the only way to go. So that’s what I was going to do.

America’s next football hero!

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OGP #ThrowbackThursday: From Mortified to Pride

In the first installment of our take on the Throwback Thursday theme, “Because It’s Fun“, I focused on the simple, borderline giddy childhood notion of doing things simply because we enjoy them. It is, unfortunately, all to easy for us to lose sight of that simple, fulfilling motivation as we grow older. This week, we’ll go in another direction, and a little less cuddly (LOL). This week is about those childhood experiences that seemed “life or death terrible” then, but have prove to be minor, if not outright beneficial to our development as we’ve grown.

Do you remember, particularly during your teen years, being embarrassed about aspects of your life that, today, are either insignificant or, better yet, sources of learning, or even great personal pride? Most of us have gone through this. The example on my mind today stems from feelings of dread that I had about what I perceived, at the time, as being “poor”.

Wait! Before you judge me :-), understand that I now see things completely differently. My point is that those of us with the benefit of life context may be able help those who are younger or less experienced by helping them to see the bigger picture to which I’m about to allude and, ultimately, to understand that most of life’s experiences serve to make us better versions of ourselves.

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How Being Thankful Helps Me

Jayson’s post, Being Thankful, got me thinking. Then I ran across this article by Maryling Yu, “The Most Important Skill In Life (It’s Not What You Think)“. I thought, “There’s something to this, and it’s worth me taking a few minutes to think about what this means to me”.

Jayson’s thoughts, Maryling Yu’s article and so many life experiences (many in hindsight) made me realize that I kind of knew this. I cannot, however, claim to have thought concretely about the concept of Being Thankful in quite this fashion. While I have been trying to improve my ownership of how I feel about life, on any given day, in any given situation, I should also be working on what I do in this context. The two are closely related, but quite different.

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OGP #ThrowbackThursday: Because It’s Fun

Why? Because it's fun!

Why? Because it’s fun!

My cousin, Jayson, suggested we try a weekly exercise — let’s call it Throwback Thursday. The idea is to reflect on a childhood feeling, what gave us that feeling, how it impacted our lives and that sort of thing, and consider what we do (or do not do) in our current lives that brings similar feelings (and how that impacts our lives, and that sort of thing).

In sharing my thoughts on Jayson’s excellent idea, I seem to have volunteered to kick things off. If you know Jayson, you know that he is adept at soliciting “involuntary volunteers” 😉 .

When I think about my childhood feelings, they were generally more raw than what I typically experience today. While they were less restricted by experience, they were also less enriched by perspective. Some feelings that come immediately to mind are those of unbridled excitement (e.g., for school picnic day, when everyone went to Kennywood Park), unreasonable fear (e.g., when the Morgan’s poodle, Nicholas, would chase me down the street) and uncontrollable laughter (e.g., brought on by seeing my older brother, Butch, dance for the first time)… That said, my first submission for Throwback Thursday is “Because It’s Fun”.

What is YOUR core set of values?

Jayson’s post, Living by a Code, combined with my after-lunch coffee 🙂 , got me all kinds of excited. This is, by far, one of my favorite subjects. As Peter Marshal (1947), Malcom X (not sure of the year), Alexander Hamilton (1978) and others have said, “If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything”.

Think about what that means. If you, as an individual, have not established and committed to your core set of values, you are much, much, much more likely to simply “go along” with any apparently attractive idea — without consideration of whether the idea is actually beneficial for you or those who depend on you. If you have not established your core set of values, you have no framework for weighing the pros and cons of life’s toughest decisions.

Let’s say, for example, that I’m back in high school. It’s Friday afternoon, and I have an unfinished paper due on Monday. All of my friends are planning to attend a birthday bash that is expected to be the biggest and best of the year. My friends mean only good things when they implore me to join them. The social possibilities for the night seem unlimited. Every girl in school will be there!!! (LOL) … What should I do?  More importantly, WHY should I do it? … While it’s easy to say that I should finish my paper, it’s much tougher to actually do it, especially while the birthday party looms as a beacon of adolescent bliss. Even if my parents lay down the law and force me to stay home all weekend to work on the paper, they cannot force me to put my heart and soul into my work… This is where my set of values needs to kick in. I must understand why it is important, to me, to finish my paper on time and with the best quality of which I am capable.

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