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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

You are a success mechanism. So are the people in your team. If you were not, none of you would have learned to walk.

So determined were you to walk, that your success mechanism went through a number of iterations: try; error; adjust; error; … success and walk! Your expectation of success, back even before you could think in words influenced what you achieved. Imagine if you had given up at the first sign of failure back then??

The power of expectations are illustrated most vividly by Tony Buzan (2003), when he quotes an educational experiment in US schools called the Pygmalion effect.

A standard form of this experiment involves giving the new teacher of a class of 10-year-old children their IQ scores at the beginning of the school year. The list is presented in descending order from the top IQ (about 150) to the lowest (about 85). The teacher is informed that the scores are for her interest only. At the end of the year, as might be expected the correlation between the children’s IQs and their performance show a close correlation.

However, as Tony Buzan goes on to clarify – there is a sting-in-the-tale of this experiment. The IQ scores the teacher was given for each child was exactly opposite of the truth. The child with the highest IQ was placed at the bottom of the list and the child with the lowest at the top and so on. So what was the reason for the extraordinarily high correlation? Not the IQ of the child. It was the EXPECTATION of the teacher.

Imagine this. A child with an IQ of 85 is performing as if he had an IQ of nearly double, because his teacher expects it of him.

In what way do your expectations limit you? In what way do they limit those you seek to influence? Or those you seek to manage or lead?

If this is so, it means that the limits of your achievements are only what you could imagine them to be. So what does this mean for you?

Perhaps you have a choice about what you might achieve. And as Marianne Williamson has said so succinctly:

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

(c) Anne Fuller-Good


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