Through my work, I have discovered that a lot of people have expectations that are not true reflections of their potential.
Most people talk about where they want to be, whereas the focus should be on where they can be.
The difference is huge.
Where we want to be is pegged on our present realities. If those realities change, then where we can be also changes.
The three key determinants of expectation are exposure, experience, and motivation. These factors have shaped the performance of people and their expectation of themselves for generations.
The first determinant is exposure. A young man living in a village and who has never seen or been told about an airplane can never think about becoming a pilot. That is not his exposure.
Many people have resigned themselves to the expectations induced by their exposure because they do not realise that there is a way for them to rise beyond expectations by simply changing their exposure.
Reading about and watching new things changes one’s exposure. Associating with people who challenge you and inspire you also does so.
In the workplace, a lot of people have been conditioned by their exposure to perform to certain levels. As such, when they are faced with the possibility of performing on a higher level they get intimidated.
A person who has never seen a business grow 25 per cent can become intimidated by hearing of a 200 per cent growth target. Such people are victims of their exposure.
The next determinant of expectation is experience.
People naturally limit their expectations to their experiences, yet it is possible to rise above the experience of the past because in reality, we are shaped not by the experiences but by the permission we accord them.
Consider the case of a woman who, having gone through a bitter divorce, concludes that she won’t get married again because her experience with her husband has affected her ability to trust any other man.
She will have permitted her experience with her husband to make an assessment of the entire male race through one man. This limits her expectations.
Your ability to move on in life is linked to your capability to rise above the negative experiences of your past. You do that by considering yourself a student rather than a victim of your experiences.
Finally, if you are going to perform beyond expectation, you must be motivated.
Many people are sitting on great talents waiting for the day that conditions will be perfect. However, there is a group of people who realise that they can create favourable conditions by their decisions.
The greatest motivator is one that is linked to purpose, not money.
When your compelling reason for living is to fulfil a purpose, the natural outcome is that you will become a magnet for resources.
Mother Theresa lived her life with a purpose to give “wholehearted and free service to the poorest of the poor”. In the process, she built many hospitals, received a Nobel prize, addressed the general assembly of the United Nations and was on every list of most admired people in the world.
She did not set out to achieve these, but the world responded favourably to her ultimate purpose.
Another good example is Mohammed Yunus, the champion of micro-credit. He was driven by a purpose to help the world’s poorest, especially women, to improve their lives and escape poverty by helping to provide access to appropriate financial services.
To operate beyond expectation is therefore to reach where you can be and not where you want to be. It is to operate in a state of changed exposure and overridden experiences, and to live a life that is driven by purpose and not by reward.
When you attach a purpose to your salary, or you define a purpose for your existence as a company, then you are on the way to operating beyond expectation.
Do have a purposeful weekend.
You can also reach Dr Wale on [email protected]