What Do I Expect?

Expectations are akin to prayers. Hopes that the universe will grant us our wishes.

And yet our expectations of the world can never take account of all the potential variables so chances are the future will not play out as we had imagined. When we do this, we are basically putting our happiness in the hands of fate.

In truth, however, many of us expend precious energy doing exquisite paintings of how we would like the world to be and then rating the actual experiences (better, worse, as expected), and ultimately dealing with the inevitable disappointment when they don’t come to pass.

Just think about it:

  • If you expect something to be good – and it is – well there is very little upside – “I expected this”.
  • If you expect it to be good – and it is anything else – then this can trigger disappointment – “I expected better”.
  • You only get an upside if it exceeds expectations – “That was better than I expected.And how often does this happen?

Instead, the less you focus on what you would like to happen and more on what is actually happening in the moment the better your likely response and ultimately the outcome.

For example, let’s imagine you have a series of expectations about how a client meeting is going to play out. The mental picture may have you arriving and the client is waiting for you in the lobby with a broad smile, followed by a leisurely coffee with the whole thing ending in a great deal.

Instead, you may actually be met with a 20-minute wait and a busy and frazzled client coming down to meet you. The more you can free yourself from anything other than what is going on right now, the more powerful your response.

Freedom comes from not being attached to outcomes. As, Alexander Pope, the 18th century English poet, said:

“Blessed is (s)he who expects nothing, for (s)he shall never be disappointed.”

Questions in the Image:

  • What do I expect?
  • What do I expect of others?
  • What do I expect of myself?
  • What do I expect from life?

Want to Further Explore This Topic?

Episode 7 of the Time Academy Podcast entitled Resetting Expectations offers some different insights on this topic.

Nurturing Curiosity – Daily Practice: This is part of the Nurturing Curiosity series of tools, insights and questions designed to help nurture curiosity as part of our daily practice. In point of fact, every interaction we have is an opportunity to question what we are observing and how we and others are seeing the world. Also remember that questions come in many forms throughout our day – a delayed meeting this morning was in effect an invitation to ask myself “What was I expecting from the day?

This is one area in which I struggle a little – this is my edge. The broad strokes of my day will always be clear (call @ X, meeting with Y, drive to Z…) but there are days in which the universe throws you a curveball and asks “What now?” I have thus learnt over the years to make a plan but not to expect the plan to play out. This allows me to stay flexible and go with the flow.

About Tom O’Leary

I coach, mentor and teach leaders who are shaping a brighter future.

Leadership can be lonely, the challenges daunting, and the workload overwhelming. I help leaders feel heard, gain clarity, take action, build confidence and thrive! Leaders matter. Their work matters. We need them at their best!

The first step? Becoming more curious. I see curiosity as the key, allowing us to unlock deep insights that directly enhance our ability to think, act and lead.

This means spending time contemplating what might be possible so that when we take action, we can bring all our energy and power to bear.

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