High expectations can be bad. Ask my wife…

IMG_0523You ever hear people say, “keep your expectations low and you’ll never be disappointed”.  I’ve always thought that was a pretty simplistic worldview.  One that if abused, would lead to an average existence.  I’ve also heard people say, “keep your expectations high”, “keep pushing”, “never give up”, “your dreams will fail if you let them”, “sleep is for losers” and my personal favorite, “winners win and losers lose”.  On most days, I totally buy into this thought pattern.  However this mindset, when used cavalierly, can be detrimental as well.  The trick is timing and perspective.  Unfortunately, I learned this lesson the hard way.

It’s about timing and perspective.

If you are leading a team that has the ability to excel, low expectations won’t satisfy you and will do them a disservice.  On this site, I often talk about developing others.  How can you build anyone up, if you don’t expect more out of them?  It’s pretty simple.  Low expectations automatically disqualify the team from any accountability to each other or to a higher standard, because it’s not expected.  High expectations are necessary, as leaders need to push their team toward an expected end result.

Expectations should never be lower than what is required.  This is where timing and perspective come into play.  Sometimes, things aren’t required but we try to place priority on them anyway.  In other words, we develop misplaced expectations.  This leads to my hard lesson…

I sort of have an expectation that the house should be spotless, we should always be on-time, the four children under 10 years old should be perfect and that all toys should go back into their place, everytime, everyday. My wife, on the other hand, is worrying about getting everyone to their various appointments, feeding them and generally keeping four small humans from killing each other.  On a normal day, she cannot possibly fill all of my “wishes” in the way I expect and still effectively do what she knows is important.

Can you imagine if I just dismissed her effort and said “you just gotta try harder”, “keep pushing”, “if you can believe it, you can achieve it”, etc…  The result isn’t good.  Yes, in case your wondering, I’m speaking from experience.

This is the perfect time to have low expectations.  By realizing that her well being and sanity is more important than the stuff on the ground, I can properly set my expectations.


By properly identifying priorities, we can manage our expectations.