Don’t lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. Expect the best of yourself, and then do what is necessary to make it a reality.
– Ralph Marston
I’ve been learning a few lessons lately regarding expectation. The word has been used a lot lately in my life and it seems that conversations with different people lead to different definitions and opinions on its value. On one hand, I’m being told that having expectations is simply a setup for failure. If you never have expectations, you will never be disappointed. One the other hand, I’m told that if I never expect success, I will never rise to meet it. I’ve been a little confused by it because for years, I’ve had very low expectations for myself. Failure is incredibly difficult for me, and to avoid it, I simply expected very little. I never understood why others expected more of me. I always thought they were being unrealistic and setting me up for failure. My lack of self-confidence kept me from realizing that they expected more of me because they actually saw more in me than I did.
Why did all of this suddenly become important? Life. And The Open. Life has forced changes in my self-confidence, but even with this, I haven’t changed the way I set expectations for myself. I still set low to avoid disappointment. I undervalue my abilities and I underestimate my capabilities. I find reasons to expect less and thus I am often surprised when I exceed my expectations – and this year has been full of them. So when 16.2 came, I looked at it and set my expectation pretty low, even though none of the movements were beyond me. I ended up exceeding my expectation by quite a bit – so much so that my coach said to me that it might be time to have a conversation about my expectations. I took me a few minutes to realize that my performance was no surprise to him. He actually expected me to do well. He believed in me more than I did. It made me think that maybe if I had expected more, I would have lifted my performance to meet that expectation and for the first time, I actually contemplated ( for about 5 minutes) doing an Open workout over. Not for a better score, because that might not have happened, but for the experience of not being surprised by my success. I wanted to prove to myself that my score reflects my abilities and that I am deserving of my success.
According to popular culture, we should avoid disappointment by never expecting to succeed. I lived that way for quite some time and in my experience, (excuse my language) that’s fucked up. Expecting less of yourself so you are never disappointed is the easy way out. It’s comfortable. What would happen instead if you got a little bit uncomfortable and set your expectations a little higher? Make your effort rise to your expectation and you might just find yourself achieving great things. You also might fail once in a while and that’s OK. Without failure and the introspection it provides, you would never see what’s possible. Don’t be afraid to expect success. Open the door and invite it in. Make it feel like an old friend and not a surprise visitor. Now, on to 16.3 (which I am hoping is NOT like my old friend 15.5 – I totally hated that guy)