Opinion: Great expectations


Sometimes, things just don’t work out as expected. Sometimes, things are complicated by weather or act of God or old-fashioned bad luck. Sometimes, our expectations were not right from the beginning.  And, yes, sometimes, the folks on the other side of the transaction are just not getting the job done. They didn’t do what they promised – and they probably couldn’t have done it even if they’d tried. We shake our collective fists in the air and exclaim, “Why did you agree to do this if you were not able?” Don’t they understand the frustration they’ve caused?

But what does it really matter? Sure, we built up our expectations – maybe they even helped to do it. We relied upon other people to deliver on time and as promised. They did not, yet we did our part. We showed up prepared and ready to go. Now, we wait for them. Even worse, we do their work to help them catch-up – in part for kindness and in part so we don’t have to wait any longer. Why does it seem to matter so much? Are a few minutes here or there really going to make much difference in a lifetime of minutes?

Do we have a low tolerance for inconvenience? High performers consistently deliver. It goes with the job. So, it stands to reason that such expectations would be universally applied. But what of the middle and low performers? What of the high performer having a bad day? What’s the limit on our reasonable expectations? And if we give in too soon, do we fail to keep standards high? Are we further pushing our culture down the slope into decline? If we expect too little, are we dooming ourselves to endless banality? Or, if we expect too much, are we inviting unhappiness and failure?