I’m not normally a fan of expectations. I believe they generally get in the way of us loving ourselves, loving others, and enjoying life. They chain us to results that “must” be accomplished lest we lose our sense of worth, power, or “rightness.” Here are a few examples.

  • Personal expectations: “I should weigh less, have more money, have achieved more, etc.”
  • Expectations we have of others: “If he loved me he would never raise his voice, always meet my needs, respect my choices, etc.”
  • Expectations about life: “Life is hard. No one else will look out for me. War is inevitable.”

Today, however, I’m taking a different stand. Expectations are good AND we benefit by living up to them!*

Back in 2006, I participated in a racial awareness program called Building Bridges. One evening after the program, the idea struck me that blacks expect more of our country (the US) than we whites (generally speaking of course). In this case I think blacks are expressing an *aspirational expectation — a desire to see a certain result — rather than an expectation of demand — an unwavering belief that the result must occur. This aspirational expectation is healthy and productive because it’s inviting our nation to be more than we might if the expectation didn’t exist. It’s as if the blacks are saying, “I believe in you USA. I see your potential. I know you can live up to your ideals. I’m here to help you be the best country you can.” They want to see this nation evolve and their expectation is calling us all to step up to the opportunity and see what we can do.

Get more without being demanding

  1. Take a look at your life and the expectations you have (of yourself, others, your employer, your country, etc.).
  2. Classify your expectations as either aspirational or demanding.
    • Aspirational expectation — A strong desire to draw out the best capabilities within oneself or another. A belief in the possibility of greatness. We’re inspired to live up to it and when we fall short we seek our lessons so we can make another attempt.
    • Demanding expectation — An emphatic requirement to be or do specific things. Any result “less than” the expectation is viewed as failure and we often translate this into reduced worth (of self or other). These expectations weigh heavy on us as we often drive ourselves to meet them.
  3. Take action to shift each demanding expectation to an aspirational one or drop the demanding expectations all together.

Are you willing to play? I’d like to know your experience, your questions, and your own ideas on this subject.