If that sounds crazy, or a little harsh, read on because it’s true.
Hoping, wishing, dreaming, planning and acting – while extremely important – aren’t lasting or of sufficient force themselves to gain your greatest desires.
Haven’t you known talented and capable people who want great things but just always seem to have “bad luck” or negative experiences, such as: being left out; getting fired; forgetting something important; they “goofed up” when they knew there was a lot riding on it; have an argument when they need to have some peace; give up, again; have some major problem; be turned down; get picked last on a team; not get asked to dance; pick the one piece of chocolate out of the box that they desperately wanted to avoid?
On the other hand, haven’t you known equally talented people who always seem to have things go their way: they find a parking space up front; cashiers seem to open a new line for them; they have a great interview; get a great bonus; have that special person go on a date with them; get that new client; land that opportunity; win an award?
What’s the major difference between these two groups of people? Surprisingly, it’s almost always their expectations, which operate upon them just like a thermostat. A thermostat works very simply, based upon a “set point.” Let’s take a look at how this principle applies to these two groups and its impact on the nature of winning results.
Whether it’s hotter or colder inside a room, if you set the thermostat at 72 what will temperature become? That’s right – 72. What will happen to the conditions that affect the temperature? They convert to conform to the command! As applied to the human psyche, this phenomenon is called by many different names or variations on the theme: laws of attraction; power of intention; magnetic vibration (good “vibes”); visualization.
You’ve no doubt heard the famous declaration that “whatever you can conceive and believe you can achieve.” NEWSFLASH – you can’t successfully “believe” in opposition to what you “expect.”
Think about a baseball player who has hit a number of home runs, including some grand slams. Fast forward to the World Series and the pressure is on – it’s up to him. He knows he has hit home runs before so he BELIEVES he can do it. But he DOESN’T EXPECT to perform under this kind of pressure and has always expected someone else, not him, to be the hero. What kind of odds will you give his team?
So what’s the power of your expectations? If you don’t know “HOW” to accomplish something, but expect you will – then you will attract, learn, or do those things that cause it to happen. The Reticular Activation System (RAS) of your brain is turned on and tuned in for opportunities and open paths – much like a football player running downfield who sees or even “senses” an opening and re-sets and changes his path to get there. Your RAS driven by your expectations causes you to act much like a heat-seeking missile locating your target – whether desirable or not.
Conversely, if you do know HOW to accomplish something but expect you won’t – then you will repel and reject those things that otherwise would have caused it to happen.
Your expectations effectively open or close the channels of choice and the thoroughfares of thought that impact whether or not you achieve that for which you hope, plan or wish.
It is altogether too common for most people operating above the level of their expectations “setpoint” to unconsciously induce self-sabotaging behavior to decrease their performance. One example is a weekend golfer who dreams of shooting in the low 80s but normally shoots in the high 90s (and expects to do so again). When he finds he has shot in the low 40s on the front nine, although very excited about the possibility to “finally do it,” he subconsciously becomes uncomfortable, saying “this isn’t like me.” Before long he has happily hooked, blindly bogied, and fired a sand-trap seeking slice to help him shoot in the high 50s on the back nine so he can check in with his “expectation thermostat,” shooting in the high 90s and comfortably say, “now, that’s more like me.”
Have you ever experienced something like that with regard to “blowing” a really big sale; losing that huge new client you’ve dreamed about that would really launch your business or career; gotten tongue-tied during an important presentation that you knew backwards and forwards and seemed to be going so well; falling back into the old habit you’re so desperately trying to break before you even get started; said the one thing you swore you wouldn’t touch on during an interview, etc.?
So, what can you do? How do you change your well-worn and wearying expectations or “reset” your thermostat. Just like professional athletes, entertainers and executives who are in a rut do – and who know that just telling themselves to “snap out of it!” generally won’t make a permanent change. It may give a needed emergency “boost” (like a candy bar) but doesn’t solve the problem. They get help, often working with a professional coach, mentor or trainer in a structured, focused, step-by-step process designed to create, support and maintain success. That way, instead of pretending they can be progressing. You can develop structured support systems and processes as well – or get some help if needed.
Research shows that increasingly, top execs at Fortune 500 companies are working with a professional coach to develop structured systems of success that can do things like discipline their focus, leverage their efforts, multiply their results, reset their expectations and raise their performance much more quickly for lasting impact to give them the winner’s edge.
Here are two action steps you can take to immediately go to work on this and start to turn up your expectation thermostat for more achievement:
First, work at paying attention to your thoughts. They will give clues as to whether you are dwelling on empowering or disempowering ideas. Practice (that’s right, practice) embracing empowering expectations and discarding disempowering ones – as soon as you “spot” them.
Next, if you don’t like what’s happening, what you’re experiencing, or the results you’re getting – in any area of your professional or personal life – take a hard and honest look at them, dig deeply and ask yourself 1 simple question: “What did you expect?” Then immediately tell yourself what you would have had to be be expecting to get the results you wanted and rehearse the experience repeatedly in your mind, imaging yourself with that expectation. That’s the “winner’s way.”