Setting expectations at a low-level shapes your decisions and limits ambition and achievement!
“Not following my heart many times over the years and allowing my limited expectations to define my life and decisions. After reading many answers in this thread, I’m about to change that”
This was an answer given to Emma Freud, the writer and broadcaster when she asked on Twitter ‘what is your biggest regret’. Read here.
This will not be the first person who has allowed limited expectations to define their decisions.
People and businesses need to be aware of the myth that says that happiness comes from having low expectations. Cynics say that people with high expectations often end up disappointed, whilst those with low expectations are easily satisfied. Often, you will be better off by falling short of an ambitious target, rather than achieving an unambitious one.
Decisions that change things come with risk attached, or as the well-worn phrase puts it, “nothing ventured nothing gained”.
Limited expectations are also what slowly reduces the prominence of once great companies. Companies like Kodak and IBM who have failed to innovate sufficiently were badly hit by either, replacement technology or, a leaner and meaner organisation.
Not being insular
Not being insular about expectations and keeping a weather eye on the competition and those around us is important. Complacently believing that what works today will work tomorrow when new ideas and technologies are on the horizon is a mistake. It can be essential to lift expectation levels just to survive.
The Kodak company was founded in 1888. It dominated the film market for most of the 20th century. Its fortunes declined at the end of the 1990s, following the decline in sales of photographic film and its limited expectations of the capacity of digital technology to overtake it. This iconic company filed for bankruptcy in 2012. It is still re-inventing itself.
Newspapers everywhere find it difficult to keep pace with digital developments. Closer to home in London, the also iconic black cabs have been resisting the technology in the engine room of Uber and other cab companies of that ilk. Perhaps the black London cabs will be next.
There is a big difference between avoiding risk and managing risk. We all do strategy and decision-making, and the best decision-makers take on risks and manage them.