Those of us who fall for clickbait and click on the links, still have a little bit of faith in humanity. Although the lion’s share of clickbait turns out to be lame, misleading, or overloaded with advertising, once in a blue moon a real gem that is worthwhile shows up. I wonder if this causes many of us to continue to have high expectations.
Sometimes, having high expectations turns out for the better. Not about clickbait, but about people. I think about the supervisors and general managers who had high expectations about me. In nearly every case, it seemed that they had set unrealistic expectations for me. Did they believe I was more ambitious than I really am?
It sometimes felt like they were setting me up for embarrassing failures. A few times, the work promotions required pushing myself towards goals that were significantly out of reach. I had to spend much more time and effort than usual to satisfy the demands of the bosses. I often surprised myself by successfully following through. There were occasional stumbles, but I was never fired or demoted because of them.
Periodically, a supervisor would cook up some new scheme to improve the workplace. Oftentimes, these came about after the boss attended a trade workshop or seminar. He would have bought into someone else’s “failsafe” technique to create the ideal business. In real time, at our workplace, the bottom would quickly drop out because the scheme was not practical for real world scenarios. It’s not that the techniques were impossible to perform; the fact of the matter is that they were nearly impossible to maintain. They weren’t labor saving; they created unnecessary tasks. The most favorable outcome was the boss shelving the techniques.
There are cultural high expectations that are inculcated through advertising and hype. This is particularly true about holidays like Valentines Day and Christmas–especially Christmas. Children become worked up to anticipate storybook scenarios and bountiful overflowing amounts of fabulous toys and gadgets. The hyper-marketing causes incredibly high expectations. When the time for the actual opening of the gifts occurs, the kids experience plenty of disappointment. Even if the children receive exactly what they wished for, they still feel somewhat let down. They believed the toy or gadget could do more than it was engineered to do. In many other ways, holidays don’t live up to the public relations versions. They’re often disappointing to many folks.
Perhaps the most disappointment over failed high expectations shows up in interpersonal relationships. Our friends and lovers expect great things from us or we mentally set a high bar for them. They believe we are more capable or have better attitudes than we actually possess. We also often have similar high expectations about them. When people are placed on pedestals, we eventually disappoint someone or they disappoint us.
It’s great to expect good results from people and events. Yet we need to be careful about the emotional bubble of high expectations. It’s not that we should be cynical or overly skeptical. Realistic expectations, based upon past performances and inclinations of people work for me.
Occasionally, I set high expectations about others, and a friend or my lover exceed even those high expectations. I’m careful not to set those times as benchmarks. It’s best to appreciate the excellent anomalies as pleasant surprises.
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes movie director, producer, and screenwriter, Alejandro González Iñárritu. “I have a lot of what you might call creative self-loathing–I have pretty high expectations, and they seem to consistently be higher than what I’m able to accomplish.”