The question of how to change your future is firmly rooted in the garden of our mind. Specifically, it is a massive and ever-present plant called “expectation.”
The idea of expectation conjures up the age old question of which came first, the chicken or the egg? In other words, do our circumstances and present reality determine what our expectations are, or do our long held expectations determine our present reality?
I suppose an argument could be made for either position. As you might imagine, my purpose is not to engage in argument or contention, so let’s objectively agree that regardless of which came first, the reality is that if we want to change the reality in which we live we can make monumental strides towards the desired end by adjusting our expectations!
Let’s just for the sake of example say that “Bob” finds himself with poor self-esteem and low expectations or success in his life. Bob has come to the place in his life where he has such expectations because his history shows a long established pattern of failure, bad choices and loss. How would you encourage your friend Bob to change his fortunes going forward? Hopefully, you could persuade Bob to get excited about the possibility of success. Perhaps you could speak to him about the strengths he does possess and inspire him to dig deep into his soul and try again. I believe you could excite him and help take his eyes out of the rear view mirror and focus on his future enough to help cultivate different expectations. Reinforcing his newly adopted expectations, you cheer him on to a short term goal and bolster his confidence and reinforce positive expectation.
I could go on, playing this scenario out but I am sure you get the point. When we make the conscious choice to change our focus and, therefore, change our expectations from failure to success our lives will bear out the better reality. When we expect to succeed in an area or specific endeavor, our actions will fall in line with what it takes to be a success. If I want to start a landscaping business, but I don’t really expect to be successful for whatever reason then my actions will be in line with failure. I will likely not invest in the best equipment or in the best employees. I will likely not bother to spend the money or time to advertise and market my business because, well, what’s the point? I’ll just go through the motions and wait for reality to catch up to my expectations. Conversely, if I fully expect to be successful, my energy level will be high and I will hustle and work my back side off in order to gain customers and earn their satisfied referrals. I will invest in whatever it takes to get the job done and grow my new company and the end result will be that the new guy on the block is really making a splash in the market!
So, what do you expect? If your answer is not exciting to you, adjust your expectations!
One way I like to measure personal growth is to to consider how one handles a crisis.
Crisis is one of those dirty little words in life we simply cannot escape. It is a constant companion that may take a brief vacation from time to time, but it always knows its way home to you! When speaking about crisis, I always love to point out an amazing lesson on crisis from the Chinese perspective. The word for crisis in Chinese is made up of two characters. Individually, they are danger and opportunity. I could almost end this blogpost right here! The self-evident lesson in the idea that crisis is made up of danger, as well as, opportunity is pretty immense and has great application in our everyday life.
First, I want to just make solid the point that when crisis enters our life, whatever form it takes, we tend to only see the danger aspect of it. If we take a moment to take a breath and understand that hidden within the danger of the moment there is a hidden gem of opportunity of one type or another it should guide our every decision during the course of the current calamity.
The evaluation of personal growth in the midst of crisis is, or at least can be, summed up in the statement that mature people will respond to the crisis while immature people simply react. Reactions tend to almost always lead to bad or unintended consequences while deliberate, thoughtful decisions made in response to the calamity will tend towards the betterment of the mature individual.
Using the crises in my life that have guided me for quite some time may help you to understand somewhat of what I am trying to convey. The loss of my eyesight is something I have had to deal with for practically all of my life. It has been a long, gradual decline, but hit a crescendo on November 14,1999 when I finally lost my driver’s license. We can also look at the crisis of cancer some seven years earlier. First, with respect to the crisis of lost freedoms with the loss of my license; the danger there was obvious. I was faced with potentially falling into the trap of forever being completely dependent upon others for pretty much everything in life. Couple that with the crisis of facing my own mortality during the cancer crisis which taught me to live life with a sense of urgency and you can see how my path ultimately was directed by seemingly terrible events. I say seemingly because in the end they did not destroy me, but have taught me valuable lessons over the years. I cannot write this and say with any honesty that I have always responded to these challenges! There were plenty of reactions —reactions that cost me dearly in terms of lost time, various kinds of setbacks and emotional pain. Will you make mistakes along the road? Of course! If you are an adult reading this, you can likely point to a long list of reactions that have cost you dearly. That is ok as long as you learn from them and grow to the point where you learn and recognize as each new crisis comes along that you need to slow down and respond rather than react. Recognizing the need to do this in and of itself is a sign of maturity. Have you ever reacted to a situation off the cuff, perhaps even in anger and later looked back at it saying, “boy that was a great decision I made in danger.” I think not! But when we feel the urge to react, we should allow this to be our flashing sign to pull back, slow down and think things through and look for the hidden opportunity within the immediate crisis. It may come to the forefront quickly, or it may take a little time. It is ok to wait and act from a place of patience and wisdom.
The opportunities are there. Commit to yourself now to seek them out in every crisis!