For years, athletes tried and failed to run a mile in less than four minutes. It was said that doing so would cause significant damage to a runner’s health. However, on May 6, 1954, Roger Bannister set out to prove everyone wrong. To everyone’s amazement, he broke the four-minute barrier, running the distance in 3:59.4 –– breaking a record that had stood for nine years. Bannister taught us a valuable lesson. As part of his training, he set high expectations for himself and relentlessly visualized his success to create certainty in his mind.
It’s interesting to note that as soon as Bannister proved a four-minute mile was feasible, it suddenly became possible for many others to achieve the same feat. In fact, even though “sub-four” continues to be a notable time for running the mile, top international runners routinely accomplish this achievement. The bottom line is that when you believe something’s possible, it becomes possible.
This is true in all walks of life. For example, expectations are well recognized in medicine, where doctors have known the power of the placebo effect for a long time. The fact is, when people expect a particular outcome, they look for evidence to support their view. This can have a powerful effect on behavior and ultimately, on results.
How Your Expectations Become Your Reality
People adjust their behavior based on the way they see the world. Here are 11 ways that expectations can affect your life every day:
- If you believe today’s going to be awesome, you’re going to be happier and more productive than if you fear problems lurking around every corner.
- If you believe people are trustworthy, you’re going to manage relationships differently than if you think everyone’s out to get you.
- If you believe you can overcome any challenge, you’re going to view obstacles differently than if you feel you’re doomed from the start.
- If you believe you’re going to be successful, you’re going to view your prospects differently than if you think, “People like me never stand a chance.”
- If you believe relationships should be win-win, you’re going to build partnerships differently than if you think everyone’s out to get the upper hand.
- If you believe good people finish first, you’re going to behave differently than if you think you have to be ruthless to win.
- If you believe feedback is critical to personal growth, you’re going to receive it differently than if you think feedback means you did something wrong.
- If you believe every successful person encounters failure, you’re going to view mistakes differently than if you think failing makes you a failure.
- If you believe hard work pays off, you’re going to view tough days differently than if you believe your company’s trying to take advantage of you.
- If you believe people generally try their best, you’re going to manage people differently than if you think people are generally lazy.
- If you believe life has its ups and downs, you’re going to view bad days differently than if you think you’re the only one with problems.
You Get What You Expect
Expectations are everything! If you shoot for the moon, and fall a little short, you’ll still end up among the stars. Conversely, some people set the bar so low you can trip over it. The fact is, “I can’t” and “I won’t” trigger the same results.
When you believe that something’s possible and you set your sights firmly on the prize, you’ve taken the first big step in making it a reality. When every part of you believes that the outcome will be positive, something magical happens. Great accomplishments begin with great expectations. You get what you expect.
What Are Your Expectations?
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