The Pygmalion Effect

Are your expectations pulling you forward or holding you back?

Remember the famous experiment called the Pygmalion Effect?  Twenty-five grade school teachers were told their students were underachievers from apathetic families.  Another twenty-five were told their students were high achievers from supportive families.  The test scores of the "underachievers" dropped by 25 points, while the scores of the "overachievers" increased by 50 points.  However, the students had been randomly divided into the two groups.  All factors were equally distributed; the only difference:  the expectations of the teachers.

Wow - how might that apply in our own lives?  Expect excellence from your children and you are likely to see it.  Expect better things from your spouse and it's likely to happen.  Expect more from yourself and you will move to a higher level of success.  Expect a better job and it will happen, expect extraordinary results in your business and you will "see" ways to make that happen.

"Everyone has it within his power to say, this I am today; that I will be tomorrow."  -- Louis L'Amour

People sometimes cringe at being told this principle.  We all like to have something or someone to blame for our misfortunes.  Circumstances, family history, our spouse, our boss or our "luck" are likely candidates for finger pointing.  Start believing that "luck" is when preparation meets opportunity.

"I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him; or the old laws be expanded, and interpreted in his favor in a more liberal sense, and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings. …. If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them." Henry David Thoreau

Don't blame circumstances or the expectations of others for where you are today.  Claim your purpose, mission and destiny by creating your own future.  Begin to "see" the fulfillment of your dreams by setting clear goals and plans of action.

From the Bible:

"1For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope."  Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Direction for Today:

Are you where you thought you'd be at this stage of life?  Where do you expect to be five years from now?

Originally posted June 6, 2007.

Dan Miller is President of The Business Source, founder of "48 Days" and author of 48 Days To The Work You Love and 48 Days To Creative Income. He is the growing authority for creating effective life plans that are achieved by integrating natural gifts, unique personality traits and one's own values and passions. His unique clarification of how God gifts us will introduce you to a new sense of freedom and fulfillment of your life's calling. For more information, visit