Expectations Make or Break You
It was 10:15 PM when I laced up my shoes and hit the timer to start my run. Typically these runs are pretty chill, an easy pace to loosen up at the end of the day and unwind a little. No sooner had I hit the start button that my phone vibrated. I glanced down to see an email from a client.
I should have just let it go and looked at it in the morning. I opened the email to find very pointed words stating that my team and I had missed not one, but two deadlines. Needless to say, the pace on my run was much more aggressive than usual.
To be honest I was pretty upset. But maybe for a different reason than you’d think. I’ve been called out before. That’s nothing new. The difference here was that the action I was being called out on was caused by a missed expectation.
However, that expectation was not my own, it was another party’s. A deadline created on someone else's terms without thought of forewarning myself and my team to see if we could get the work done.
Here’s what really got me. The expectation that was set on me was not one that the accusing party held for themselves. Unfortunately, I see this all the time. It is far too common that an exterior source will try to dictate the terms of my life or the lives of others, with no consideration to see if they are holding the same standard for themselves.
If you expect something of others, you sure better be able to maintain the same standard for yourself.
My wrestling coach in high school was tough on us. Let me rephrase that. He was very tough, because he knew what we were really made out of and was always trying to bring the best out of us.
One day one of my teammates called coach out and made a comment about him making us do things that were too hard. To which my coach responded “I would never make you do anything I would not be willing and capable of doing myself.” And it was true.
On multiple occasions, he would hand the whistle off to our assistant coach and would run the sprints with us. Or do the push ups, or get out and spar with us (and pretty much cleaned everyone’s clock too).
The point being, the standard he held of the team, was the same standard he held for himself.
I have been in too many scenarios over the past several years where the expectations put on me or my teams were not being upheld by the person enforcing the expectations. This leads to decreased trust as well as feelings of hypocrisy.
If you are going to place expectations on someone, you first should check yourself to make sure you are holding yourself to the same standard.
So how do you create and maintain expectations? It starts with your internal standards (which I’ve discovered most people don’t have).
To create standards for yourself you must first understand where you are. I’m going to use fitness as an example, something most people can resonate with.
To create a standard, you must begin to act in accordance with the next version of yourself.
Maybe you are currently going to the gym once a week, that’s the standard. Which means it will be hard for you to give someone advice to go to the gym four days a week since that’s not your standard.
Over time you can raise the mark or water line to reflect the new standard. If you go to the gym twice a week for 4-5 weeks, then you start going three days a week, then four. By doing this, begin to create the new standard.
Then what happens? It all becomes normal. You raised your standards and your expectations for yourself have now gone up.
What’s the real benefit here?
You just created credibility with yourself. And that credibility creates confidence, self reliance, and an increased identity.
So why start with evaluating your expectations with others? Because it gives you a barometer for yourself! Look at how you treat others and the expectations you put on them. Do you hold yourself to the same standard?
You look at someone else and say:
“Well they should be going to the gym five days a week.” Are you?
“She is so judgmental, she needs to be more kind.” Are you being kind and non-judgmental?
“He really needs to read more leadership books. He’s just isn’t a good leader.” What are you doing to become a better leader?
When you can evaluate how you view others and the expectations you hold others to and see that you are holding the same or higher standard, then you are in a place to begin to enforce some of those standards.
But here’s what’s most important: What are your standards for yourself? Are you working on raising your standards? Maybe it’s time to level up and put the expectation on yourself to grow.
Begin now. I promise it will lead to more confidence, more happiness, and more fulfillment of who you were meant to be.
As always: Stay humble, Stay hungry.
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