Lower Your Expectations

In The News

Lower your expectations.

I first heard this advice at RAGBRAI, the annual bike ride across Iowa held the last week of July. When my friends and I arrived at camp to start the adventure, the head of our outfitter, Pork Belly Ventures, welcomed us with the following, "This is going to be a great week. But here's the reality: It's hot. You're sleeping in a tent. And you're riding with 10,000 cyclists into town s built for 400 residents. If you want a great experience, just lower your expectations."

Brilliant. Most employed advice of the week. Whenever anything was about to cause an upset (like the mid - week downpour and tent - flooding), we would look at each other and say, "Lower your expectations."

When our expectations are high, we easily get disappointed, angry, and upset. In fact, conflict is merely the result of missed expectations. One person's expectations are higher than another per son's. That gap produces the conflict.

If you're like me, however, you're suddenly looking at an entire career rippled with high expectations of people. You cannot fathom lowering them for fear of breeding complacency and mediocrity!

But here's why we should heed the advice from RAGBRAI and apply it to work:

  • We can have high expectations of things we manage: time, money, budgets, deadlines, and projects.
  • We get in trouble when we place high expectations on things we do not manage and therefore cannot control: weather, traffic, airlines, crowds, family, and people.

We manage things and we lead people. Expectations are things to be managed. People are not.

So what should we do with those high expectations we have been dumping on people?

Exchange those expectations for aspirations.

As leaders, our commitment is for people to be wildly successful. So we need high aspirations for them. And only through leading can we contribute to and influence their success with those aspirations. We influence aspirations. We control expectations.

New Rules

  • If you cannot control it, then lower your expectations around it.
  • Exchange those high expectations of people with high aspirations for them.
  • Then influence the success of those aspirations by relentlessly leading and contributing.
  • Lower your expectations. Raise your aspirations.

Caveat: Lowered expectations does not mean "no expectations." You must have minimum standards of expectations for every role.

Try on this perspective this week! Le t me know how it looks through the kaleidoscope.

- Ann Tardy

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