“Don't blame people for disappointing you, blame yourself for expecting too much from them.”
I read this quote on the internet the other day. Wow!! I couldn’t disagree more!
From the beginning
From the time I was a child, I always felt a lot was expected of me. I don’t know if it was true or not, but I felt that way anyway. I was the oldest, I was Catholic, and school came easy to me. A trifecta which was hard to live up to. Always trying to make others happy, sometimes at my own expense...…..that was me. Perhaps my inability to say “no” may have also contributed to this. In elementary and high school, I was always an “A” student, feeling like I wasn’t allowed to fail at the risk of being humiliated or hurting my parents or even letting myself down.
I was blessed to get a job right out of high school, and it paid the kind of money most high school graduates could only hope to make. In looking back, I am sure I didn’t realize how blessed I was. And then working at the same corporation for 45+ years….….well, line up the people who have enjoyed this kind of security and consistency……I am sure that line is still short today.
With the passing of 45 years, now working for the Catholic Church, wisdom has tended to reshape my thinking about expectations I have of myself. I am not 21 anymore and although I hold myself to very high standards, I now know that practicality needs to be a part of my desire to continue to exceed these high standards. Physical realities have played a part in it, and the fact that life felt a lot simpler 60 years ago, is also something for me to acknowledge. Technology, social media and a “Me culture” has influenced the world, maybe to its detriment. However, in reading the quote I cited earlier, it explains a lot. I expected a lot of myself, and it’s likely why I expect so much of others. Afterall, if I could succeed and achieve what I did, why can’t others?
Believe me, I get it. “But for the grace of God go I”!!! So many others have a life which wasn’t the life I have lived. I know how blessed I am. We should all want to change the world, so all God’s children live in comfort, happiness and love.
What does Jesus want of us?
As a Catholic, I know better than to judge others and their efforts to make the world a better place. That, my friend, is not in my job description…it is in God’s. So, what does Our Lord expect of us? Actually, it is pretty simple. Be kind, be just, act with humility and love each other.
Bing, bang, boom………..easy peasy….right?
I am not so naïve as to believe the world operates this way. If that were the case, the world would be full of nothing but perfect people making a B-line for heaven. Heaven is waiting for us…..what we do to make the world a better place will determine when/if we get there, and it is our challenge to undertake. I believe those pesky expectations are needed for us to be the best we can be in God’s eyes. We are all imperfect, and as a result, God encourages us to strive to work on upping our game. And upping our game comes with high expectations.
Insights from the past
A Plant Manager once told me something many years ago. He said to not underestimate what I can do or expect others to do. People can handle more than we give them credit for. People want to be needed. I know that is absolutely true of me. If I am not needed, I feel lost. My feeling is that is why God put us on this earth…… to be with each other, need each other, help each other and love each other.
Setting high expectations for those who work for us requires each to challenge themselves to achieve goals established for them. In a way, Jesus challenges all of us each day. He expects us to be good to each other and to love each other. I suppose most of us try. But is trying enough? Some would say no. Some “say” they tried as an excuse for failing. That is clearly an unfair assessment, but we all need to be encouraged to not only meet expectations, but to exceed them and to be the best child of God we can be. Trying is only a part of the battle.
But where to start?
As a Human Resource professional, I know a little bit about setting expectations. For many years, at the corporation I worked for, we used SMART goals. (George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company is credited with their creation.) They are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. I love these. They were/are fair, pointed, easily understood and easy to remember. And the high expectations/goals allowed employees to mark and track their achievements. This is not an HR article, but SMART goals allow for high expectations to be designed and understood for all who establish them for themselves and others.
God and others show us the way....
God set very high expectations for His Son. Oh, boy, that sure turned out great for the rest of us!!! As much as we all would love to change the world as Jesus did, it’s not likely what we do will have the same impact Jesus had on the world. Robert F. Kennedy’s quote “Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream of things that never were, and say why not”, lines up nicely with high expectations. It is this thinking that will allow us to aspire to accomplish that which we think is impossible, to love more, hate less and be the best we can be. How about changing our little part of the world? We need to look up instead of down. We need to hope for the best instead of assuming the worst.
It is do-able
So, when your boss, your parents, your teacher or even a friend challenges you with a set of expectations, no matter how high, don’t think of it as an impossibility. Instead of saying “How?” and whining why you can’t, say “Why not?” and search for ways of achieving success. That search may be on your own or with the help of a friend. Afterall, ‘that’s what friends or are for’, or so says Dionne Warwick. If your friend is a true friend, look to them. God gave us friends for a reason.
Different results from different expectations
So, let's go back to the quote earlier “Don't blame people for disappointing you, blame yourself for expecting too much from them.” Blame, in-and-of-itself, is not useful. It doesn’t solve anything. And it’s not disappointing others that is important. It’s disappointing yourself and God for not being willing to try or working hard. And finally, I’ll never blame myself for expecting too much of myself or others. A teacher expecting the best from his/her students will make those young people intelligent and independent ‘difference makers’ for the future. A parent expecting the best from their children can only make them successful adults. A supervisor expecting the best from his/her employees, allows the employee the opportunity to succeed individually and for the company/organization. And Jesus expects the best from all of us, which will benefit the world in how we treat each other, care for each other, and love each other and love Him.
Expectations…… especially high ones, are good for the world and for all of us as children of God.
Set high expectations for yourself. Don’t shoot for just average, shoot for the sky.
God will reward you for it.