Julie Lyles Carr: Monday Musings...Expectations

Monday, January 26, 2009

Monday Musings...Expectations

“High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.”
Charles F. Kettering

“Anger always comes from frustrated expectations”
 Elliott Larson
 “The best things in life are unexpected - because there were no expectations.”
Eli Khamarov

So we're entering Day 6 of the First 100 Days...and I'm already hearing the rumblings.  The commentary on MSNBC questioning a key appointment because of lobbying practices.  The concern over the decorator hired for the White House given that designer's ties to the ousted Merrill Lynch CEO.  The debate over the toys being made depicting the names of the president's daughters.  The speedy closing of Gitmo.  The vitriol of the conservative news outlets and the questions and expectations of the more liberal.


It's enough to keep me from running for the office in 2012.

Because when it's all said and done, our new president is going to have to deal with the expectations of people who have set those expectations very, very high, and, ironically,with those who have set their expectations very, very low.  So somebody is going to be disappointed.

And he is just a man.  A gifted man.  A bright man.  A man who clearly traffics well in politics.

But no man can meet every person's expectations.

Particularly the expectations of a diverse and fatigued nation.

Expectations are such an interesting thing.  Without them, we wouldn't strive.  With them, we can pander in unrealities.  And in that pandering can end up wallowing in disappointment.

There are several schools of thought when it comes to the expectations we bring to various situations.  In pyschology, such observations as the Clever Hans effect and the Hawthorne effect describe the performance impact on a subject when expectations are set very high.  Subjects generally rise to the higher standard.  And conversely, people can also perform to the lowest level when that is the expectation, a brutal self-fulfilling prophecy.  It would seem prudent to keep those expectations high.

At the same time, when someone fails to meet our expectations (the forgotten anniversary, the less-than stellar birthday gift, the bad hotel room, the poor service at a restaurant), all the wishing and hoping falls flat and can seem to fall even flatter if our bar was raised high to begin with.

Hence my triple quote header this post--which quote is the right one?  Do we need high expectations?  Do we set ourselves up for anger and frustration because of our expectations?  Or are we happier with life's outcomes if we bring no expectations to the table?

I find truth in all three quotes--I know, I know, how bipartisan--or should I say tripartisan--of me.  But perhaps all three are true in this way:  the first should be applied mainly to ourselves.  Setting high expectations for ourselves creates momentum, goals, drive, a high personal standard.  The second could serve as a warning against judgment of others: when we find ourselves disappointed in the performance of others based on expectations, would we ourselves be willing to be judged by the same measure?  And the last quote rings true to me from experience:  the most joyous moments, the most brilliant beams of happiness have come on the most common of days, during the most common paces of daily life--the unexpected bouquet of flowers, the unexpected encouraging card, the unexpected hilarious antic of a child, the unexpected treasure of a book happened upon in the library, the unexpected declaration of love.  Heady magic in a scheduled, planned-out, high expectation world.

So which is your pick? Which quote reads most accurate to you?  Where do your expectations lay?  Are they from within, from without? Write your own post on this topic and put the url of that post and your name in the Mister Linky's box below or leave your insights in the comment box.

I expect you will.....

(I crack myself up...)

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