Do expectations define our reality?

It has been documented that other people's expectations of someone have a profound effect on performance.  Maybe you have experienced this...I know I have. 

Go to boot camp and find yourself in front of a drill instructor who expects high standards, within a few days, your performance increases to the expected level.  Sign up for SealFit Kokoro and find yourself working out at high intensity for 50 hours without sleep and performing better at the end than at the beginning despite never having done anything like that previously.  How is it possible?  It is possible because the instructors expect you to do it and dont tolerate anything else.  Walk into a wrestling room where everyone is better than you and expects you to perform at a high level.  You get into the mix and find yourself wrestling better than you ever have.  Walk into a CrossFit gym where everyone is stronger and faster than you.  Workout there for a few days and you experience a PR in almost every area.

Hang out with a bunch of world class guitarists, you become better.

Go to any place where mediocrity is not tolerated or accepted and you will not be mediocre...or at least for long.  Go where the standards are high and your performance will rise to meet the standards, if you want it bad enough, despite physical ability or skill.

 A sign I saw at St Edwards wrestling room.  Mediocrity is not tolerated there. 

A sign I saw at St Edwards wrestling room.  Mediocrity is not tolerated there. 

Is this real?  Yes it is real.  It is a part of life that is evident in every activity.

If we all can agree that being around other people who are better or smarter than you can make you increase your performance because of their expectations of you, how far can we take that?  Can you learn a new language in record time by immersing yourself in a foreign culture where everyone expects you to speak the native language...yes.  Take it further...can you become an olympic athlete, a Navy Seal, a world class violinist, a better businessman, a better father, by training or being around people who expect more from you than you even expect from yourself?  There are many examples of all of these things happening.  So what is the question, really?  Is it what can we do or what can't we do?

Do you think it is possible that a blind person could see because of expectations of those around them?  Or can the expectations of those around that blind person make them think or become convinced of all of the things that they can't do?

I recently listened to a fascinating podcast about this exact subject.  I encourage you to give it a listen and when you do...think about a couple of things.

On the simplest level, this podcast might make you wonder whether you need to reevaluate who you spend your time with.  Are these people expecting big things from you or are they helping you to be mediocre?   It has been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.  Are you being pushed to excellence or coddled toward mediocrity?

On a deeper level, maybe it makes you think about how you are raising your kids.  Are you smoothing the road for them and therefore lowering their expectations of themselves? 

On an even deeper level you may contemplate whether or not there are any limits on the human being.  Are there actually limits or do we create limits by our own and/or society's expectations?

On a personal level, after you listen to this podcast, maybe you contemplate your own expectations for yourself or your children.

Tony Robbins has always said that we are limited only by our own beliefs.  He also said that the key to success is to expect more from yourself than anyone else could possibly expect from you. 

Dan Gable said:

“I’m a big believer in starting with high standards and raising them.

We make progress only when we push ourselves to the highest level.  If we don’t progress, we backslide into bad habits, laziness and poor attitude."

I have tried to live by these principles and can credit much of the success that I have created to them. 

The story of "Batman" as told by NPR's This American Life is amazing to everyone but the subject of the documentary, a blind man who has learned to operate as well as a person with sight. He taught himself echolocation at a very young age and is completely comfortable riding a bicycle through traffic.  He doesn't see his ability as anything special.  He says that a blind person riding a bike through traffic is something that any blind person can do, but few do.  His mother began his life with high standards by raising him as if he had sight and he raises them daily.  The result is him defying and shattering our societal expectations of blind people.  His new objective is to show the world that we have to change the expectations that the world has of blind people.

In my own life, I have seen something like this one time.  I have a friend named Kyle Maynard.  He is a congenital quadriplegic amputee who wrote a book called No Excuses.  Kyle went to a regular school, played football and found his place on the wrestling mat.  His parents and those around him raised their expectations of him and helped him to understand that he was not limited.  Recently, Kyle just climbed Mt Kilimanjaro.  He has visited the RRL and I took him fishing once and had an opportunity to talk to him extensively.  One thing that stuck with me that he said was, "I don't have a disability.  People who have confidence issues, or issues with negative self talk have a disability.  I just don't have arms or legs.  I can do anything.  Those people are the ones with a disability".

I urge you to listen to this podcast.  You can listen here or you can get it through the iTunes store by searching This American Life and downloading episode #544 Batman or simply listen below.


I would like to know what you think about this podcast.  Leave a comment or lets find some time to discuss.