Quality Blog

Jim's Gems: Lowering Expectations

December 21, 2009
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When things are not going our way, it can be tempting to lower expectations. Yet, strange as it may sound, the best step might be just the opposite: not to lower our expectations, but raise them higher.

When things are not going our way, it can be tempting to lower expectations. Actually, when not meeting expected results it is often the first thing that pops into our head. We somehow try to convince ourselves that our expectation was unrealistic. Yet, strange as it may sound, the best step might be just the opposite -- not to lower our expectations, but RAISE them higher.

It may seem that lowering our expectations so they're more in line with our reality would protect us from disappointment and the feeling of failure. However, lowering our expectations might ensure one thing is going to happen: greater disappointment.

If we're disappointed with our results, it might not be because our expectations are too high. It just might be because those expectations are not high enough to cause significant energy to pull us forward. There is a quote to capture this idea, "The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it."

Achieving a low expectation is a fleeting endorphin. It passes quickly with the realization that we could have done much more. Achieving a poorly set goal is not good for us personally and it hurts the organization in which we serve.

Try raising your expectations to the point where they become so powerful and compelling that you cannot help but fulfill them. High expectations tend to supply that energy and passion that consumes us to the point that failure is not an option. We need to choose those expectations that will drive us in each moment to do what must be done to reach them.

Set your expectations high, connect solidly and consistently with them, and those expectations will give us a positive, effective direction. Expect the very best, and let those expectations supply the passion and the energy to help you achieve your objectives.
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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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