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Low Expectations Lead to Disappointment

  • 2009 8 Oct
Low Expectations Lead to Disappointment

Our mind can complete the expectations we have!

Recently I installed three new poles and decorative lights on the driveway approach to our house.  Although I enjoy being a handy man, electrical work always makes me nervous.  I rented a trencher, dug a narrow ditch and carefully laid the line in the trench.  I then proceeded to install the outlets and run the line up each pole before completing the power attachment at our house.  Twice in this process I recoiled with the stinging shock of electric power surging through my arms - but wait - there was no power yet attached.  I hadn't connected the line to the power source.  Just in the "anticipation" of power I was convinced I "felt" it shock me.

I find I'm not alone in this mysterious happening.  Commonly known as the Pygmalion Effect, scientists say this phenomenon occurs when "a false definition of the situation evokes a new behavior which makes the original false conception come true."  In other words, once an expectation is set, we tend to act in ways that are consistent with that expectation, even when it's not true.

Whoa - what about expecting a bad performance review, getting fired, being rejected by a friend, believing that all good jobs are going overseas, expecting bad "luck," or "knowing" your business is going down the tubes.  Could the false anticipation make that event become a reality? 

"There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2 Scene 2

Certainly there are absolute truths, unchanging good and evil. However there are times when our perspective on a situation can profoundly impact our lives. Could you reverse the phenomenon?  Do you think you could "expect" good things and have more good things happen?  Read the current statistics on jobs and business in America - you can find unprecedented growth or the worst employment situation in 30 years. 

Yes, I did complete the final hook-up and am now enjoying seeing the actual power surge through the lines to shine in the darkness.  I get a little extra enjoyment knowing that I overcame my fear in completing the task.  Those lights are a daily reminder that sometimes when I feel a "shock" it's not reality but just a false expectation - that I can overcome.

From the Bible:

"What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.  I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil."  Job 3: 25-26 (NIV)

Direction for Today:

Describe a time in your life when you "expected" a negative outcome. What happened?

Originally posted February 14, 2007

 Dan Miller is today's leading authority and personality on careers and 'Work You LoveTM'. As bestselling author of 48 Days To The Work You Love, and now No More Mondays, Dan reaches over a million people every month ia his newsletter, podcast, and blog with the best trends and opportunities in the workplace and small business. For more information, visit