What Do You Expect?

The person who doesn’t believe she can be happy will most likely be unhappy. The person who doesn’t believe she deserves wealth and abundance will live in poverty, even in the midst of plenty. The person who believes sales people are rude, waiters are surly, and support personnel are incompetent usually is helped by a rude sales clerk, served by surly waiters, and seldom finds anyone to help who knows what he or she is doing. What do you expect?

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what do you expect

“Did You See Our Hamster?”

Back in the early 90s (you know, last century), Rebecca & I bought a lot in a new subdivision in Fountain Inn and built a house. Because we had already sold our current house, we rented an apartment for several months while our new home was under construction. Our girls were very young. Lizzi (or Claire as she was known as back then) was not yet two and Rachel was around 4.

Our apartment was on the ground floor. It had a patio directly under the balcony of the apartment up above. There was a young family with 2 small boys living above us. One day, the 2 boys upstairs reeled a note down to our patio on a fishing line. The girls thought this was great fun and put a couple of cookies in a plastic baggie and attached it to the hook, in place of the note. From then on, every so often, they would exchange notes or goodies via the fishing rod express.

Our apartment was like most apartments I’ve ever seen – a small kitchen and a long front room with the dining area on one end and the living area at the other end. One evening I was sitting in the living room and saw a small mouse scurry across the floor of the dining room. “I’ll soon take care of that,” I said. I got a mouse trap, put a dollop of peanut butter on the trip mechanism, and placed it in a corner of the dining room. Sure enough, in less than 15 minutes, I heard a SNAP and the mouse was caught. I surreptitiously (so the girls wouldn’t know) carried it out and disposed of it. Problem solved.

The next afternoon, down came the fishing line with a note attached to the hook. “Have you seen our hamster? He got loose and we think he went down into your apartment.”

What Did I Expect?

Did I kill the hamster? Well, to this day I can’t be sure but I probably did. You see, I didn’t expect to see a hamster. If the truth be told, I didn’t expect to see a mouse either, but I knew mice occasionally invaded homes so a mouse is what “made sense”. I didn’t expect to see a hamster so I didn’t see a hamster . . . I saw a mouse.

This concept holds in other areas in addition to rodent spotting. We typically get what we expect. So what are your expectations in life — in your career, in your relationships, in your finances, in setting and reaching your goals?

Seeing What I Expect To See

Here’s another example. On Saturdays, I usually do a bit of extra cleaning in the bathroom. I take a paper towel and wipe off the the top of the mirror and the light fixtures above the mirror – mainly because I’m tall and can reach them fairly easily. I also dust off the tops of the door frames, the window frame, picture frames, and the blinds. Last Saturday, I happened to know we were out of paper towels in the bathroom because I had seen the empty paper towel roll a day or two before. I looked anyway in the cabinet under the sink where we keep the roll of paper towels, just to be sure. I like to be sure. As I expected, no paper towels.

I went down to the pantry where we keep the supply and got a fresh roll. I went back to our bathroom, opened the cabinet to store the new roll and saw . . . a roll of paper towels. Rebecca had replaced it earlier that morning. But because I expected to see no roll of paper towels, I saw (or didn’t see) what I expected – I didn’t see the roll of towels that was plainly there.

Expectations Effect Future Experiences

Expectations are usually based on past experience. What do you expect when you shop in your local grocery store? What do you expect when you stop in at your favorite coffee shop? (or bar? or where ever you hang out?) How do you expect to be treated at church? at a governmental office (DOT, tax office, or etc.)? You expect certain things in each of these situations because of your previous experiences in these situations.

But expectations effect future experiences. “I don’t do colds,” I often say, if mostly to myself. And I seldom catch a cold. I don’t expect to be sick, and so I’m mostly not. There’s no magic or metaphysical hanky-panky going on. The natural law of cause and effect cannot be broken or bypassed. But because I don’t expect to get sick, I do things to keep myself healthy. I wash my hands – a lot. I avoid people with colds and flu (as much as I can). I use zinc lozenges if I think I’ve been exposed to cold germs. Because of my expectations, I do the things I can do to remain healthy.

You can live from your past or you can live into your future. Most of us do a little of both. But if the bulk of your expectations is based on what you’ve already done or received or experienced, how will you ever stretch yourself to reach your full potential?

Jumping The Broomstick

In The Art Of Significance, speaker and author Dan Clark tells of addressing a sports team. During his presentation, he had a couple of assistant coaches hold a broomstick about 12 inches off the floor. Then he called on the star of the team to come up and jump over the broomstick. Clark writes, “After some prodding, he finally strolls up to the front of the room, walking with a swag that looks as though he had sat on something hot. I then ask him if he thinks he can jump over the 12-inch-high broomstick. After he glares at me, conveying that this is a waste of his precious time and how dare I insult his athletic sophistication, I ask point-blank, ‘Will you jump over the broomstick?’ Grinning sarcastically, he skips over it and stares me down again.” [Clark 57]

Now, this star athlete had a 38 inch vertical jump — he can jump more than a yard high from a standing position. Yet he only jumped 12 inches. Because that is all that was expected of him.

How much more could you and I do than we are doing, how high could we jump, if others expected more from us and if we expected more from ourselves? Many experts believe we have almost unlimited potential. We could jump 38 inches or 38 feet (although maybe not literally) if we realized only a part of our full potential.

What Do You Expect?

The person who doesn’t believe she can be happy will most likely be unhappy. The one who doesn’t believe she deserves wealth and abundance will live in poverty, even in the midst of plenty. The person who believes sales people are rude, waiters are surly, and support personnel are incompetent usually is helped by a rude sales clerk, served by surly waiters, and seldom finds anyone to help who knows what he or she is doing.

What are your expectations in the area of your physical health? Your spiritual well-being? Your emotional and mental health? Your financial health? Your career? Your relationships? “You can’t always get what you want” says the old song. But then, what do you expect?


Excelerated Focus™ — aligning your actions with your true desires — is one step in creating your Excelerated Life™, a life of well-being, meaning, and purpose.

Read more about the Excelerated Life™.


Resources:

Clark, Dan. The Art Of Significance – Achieving The Level Beyond Success. New York: Penguin Group (USA), Inc., 2013

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