For some of us, the above title triggers nostalgia to a late-night MADtv comedy skit from the ’90s, but for others it will trigger that minor PTSD of getting excited about a new relationship, a new restaurant, a new job, only to have all of our expectations brought to a screeching halt by a pesky little thing called ‘reality.’ As a result of being historically slapped in the face by a breakdown in our expectations, the natural human tendency is to set up defense mechanisms to protect ourselves. Over time, these mechanisms can lead to, at best, to cautiousness or trepidation, at worst, to bitterness or isolation from novel situations.
I recently began my journey as a Talent Consultant for SHIFT. From day one, I was blown away by just how different the onboarding experience was from anything I had previously experienced. The week prior to starting, I received a “welcome” message from basically everyone in the organization, and then I walked in to find a well thought-out new hire package, IT equipment set up and ready to roll, and the entire onboarding process laid out cleanly before me with the next week/month/quarter in detail. In short, I was impressed. I mentioned this in passing to our CEO thinking he would appreciate the feedback, and he did, but his response caught me off-guard. He told me to raise the bar. “You’re 4 hours in…seriously? Talk to me in a month… 6 weeks… 6 months. If we’re not still impressing you by then, we’ve got bigger issues to tackle.” At first I thought, “Well, that’s the last time I compliment this guy,” but with a little time to digest his comments, I realized it was exactly what I needed to hear. I had normalized the sub-par, incorporating it into a neatly packaged set of lowered expectations. My welcome was meant to “raise the bar” not just for myself, but for the experience that I will provide to my clients and candidates.
Most of us would like to consider ourselves brave, explorers of life who venture boldly into the unknown. The only way to truly embody that self-identification is to shatter those defense mechanisms that we have built up brick-by-brick over the years, and realize that we only have control and accountability over one entity – ourselves. By acknowledging this fact, and beginning to hold ourselves to the highest standards, we empower and liberate ourselves from the potential (and sometimes inevitable) let-downs that life throws our way. Once we empower ourselves with this newfound confidence and agency, the Law of Attraction will activate, magnetizing our surroundings to elevate themselves to the standards we set for ourselves. Rather than lowering our expectations for external forces, we should instead manage them, and continue to aim higher. Get prepared to be pleasantly surprised when gifts are dropped at the door, rather than disappointed when something you you feel entitled to fails to come to fruition. Shatter those lowered expectations to make room for something much, much greater– a sense of pride and purpose.