Monday, November 26, 2012

The Paradoxes of Our Lives - To Expect More, Expect Nothing

I love this paradox of expectations.
Pic courtesy Satish Nargundkar

There are those leaders who weigh us down with their unreasonable expectations. These people literally weigh us down with the burden of expectations they place on us and effect our performances.

And then there are those who make us want to perform better and better for them, make us want to do better and reach their expectations, said or unsaid. We feel obliged to perform for them. And we do.

What exactly is the difference between these two types of leaders? One that gets the best out of us and another that puts unnecessary pressure on us and affects our performance.

I think the key is this. The expectation that affects our performance positively is the one that comes with the rider that it is okay if you fail. That "I trust that you will reach those expectations somehow, in your own way. You find the way and show me what you are capable of". In a funny way, there are no expectations really except that you will do your best.

The other kind of expectation, the one that affects performances negatively, is the one that expects more from you but cannot tolerate any failure. Any deviation. It puts pressure from word go, and is constantly on the lookout for failure. There is an amazing amount of pressure - and focus on failure (even if it is about not failing) - that it is bound to end up as a failure. In this case, it is the fact that there are expectations for everything, from scratch, that make it impossible to meet those criteria.

Expect. But without setting all the criteria. With no expectations really - but the one expectation that your expectations will be met or exceeded. Expect, and give them the freedom to deliver even if they make a few mistakes.

They will deliver far in excess of what you can ever dream of.

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