A recent tweet from Orrin Woodward read “Don’t join an easy crowd. Go where the expectations & the demands 2 perform R high.”….. (find Orrin at http://orrinwoodward.blogharbor.com/blog) illustrates the reality that a small or low expectation sets up a small or a low capacity to produce and a limited ability to receive.
In other words if my expectation from my efforts is that the cup of my life will be filled by my actions and I am holding a 12oz cup, then there’s a good chance that cup will be filled. If I happen to be holding a 32oz cup with the same level of commitment to action, then there is a good chance that cup will be filled also.
The size of the cup represents my expectation level. If I have low expectations, and they are met. then I have a full 12oz life. If I have higher expectations and they are met, then I live a full 32oz life. In the example both versions are full, just the capacity is different, which leads to the value of expectations. Higher expectations seem to draw higher productivity.
This perspective seems fairly well accepted in the world but I wondered if it was really true, or just one of those ideas that sound plausible but are not that repeatable, until I found myself in a very measurable expectation exercise.

Been there

I had just started a Franchise business in the Houston area and had been in operation for a few months. Things were not looking good. Expenses continued to outrun Income and yet I felt I was doing all the right things. The gauges that measure selling, advertising, promoting, networking were all pegged at maximum. I was ruthlessly frugal with spending and felt like I was squeezing every last drop out of the machine.One particularly challenging evening the full weight of the implications of the current trend of my business came down on me. I felt overwhelmed. Buried in the debt of a business startup and seeing no end in sight except the downward trend of our revenue position – I took a sober look at what I could change. I realized that there was an element in the mix that I still could influence – my expectations.

Raised Expectations

I had allowed the overwhelming evidence of our position to cause my expectations to sink to a level that matched the productivity at the time. We needed 32oz productivity and I had 12oz expectations. When I realized that, and it may sound strange to think that reality could escape me, but when I realized that my expectations were being met at a 12oz level, then I knew what I had to do. I had to raise my expectations.  I began to think about how high my expectations needed to elevate to become profitable, and started to settle on a new higher number and then it occurred to me… If I can adjust our productivity from loss to break-even, I can just as easily push it into real profitability using the same approach. Which we did. I spoke about the need for changing expectations to everyone on our team and then modeled what that looks like in attitude, behavior and speech. In two more months we were breaking even and in a little over three more years the business was 3 times the size and debt free.

Watch out

There is a caveat here though. You can’t fake it. The element that is required is genuine expectation. Not hope. Hope implies a sense of wishfulness, an openness and acceptance to the possibilities of tomorrow. Expectation on the other hand has a defined outcome, a clear and relevant positioning that is based on plausible outcomes from tomorrow. Hope waits for the possibility, and is a passive passenger. Expectations plans for the probability and is the conductor.

Two questions then:

  • What outcome could you change by adjusting your expectations?
  • In your expecting are you a passenger or a conductor?