Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Colossians 3:23

The Power of Expectations

Positive expectations – Positive results

Negative expectations – Negative results

Yes, that’s the right title: I’m talking about the power of expectations for the successful achievement of any worthy goal you are pursuing. This power is extremely important, and often underrated. I’ve found that a person’s expectation level is a great success predictor for any planned action, whether it be the pursuit of a degree, a business, a career or career change, or even a lasting marriage. Given their power, our expectations need to be examined and tested.

In checking a highly positive expectation level for something I’m planning, I’ve learned to ask myself whether there’s sufficient justification for it. Is it based on realistic assessments and thorough research, or is it only based on excitement, naïveté, and wishful thinking? Some of the failures I experienced in my 65 years in the business world fell into the wishful-thinking category, and could have been avoided had I gone through the exercise of testing my expectations. There’s no question that in order to succeed, you must have a very positive expectation level; but it has to be well grounded in reality. I’ve found that a justified, reality-checked positive expectation has a 90-plus chance of producing a positive result.

Where do negative expectations enter the success and failure picture? If the reality check has changed your positive expectation to a negative one, don’t overrule this feeling, as I’ve done in the past at great expense and wasted effort. Don’t proceed if your plan doesn’t pass the reality test; drop it! Or at least hold off while you do more research and review and make necessary adjustments to your plan. This may reignite the vision and lead to the success you’re hoping for.

Mind you, a negative expectation needs to undergo the same reality check. You may discover that it’s based on the fear of failure, which ought never to be the reason for dropping a plan or project. Or perhaps you’re overrating the obstacles, or underrating your ability to overcome them. But if a reality check shows the negative expectation to be justified, then don’t proceed.

Now here are a few all-important questions for you if you’re a Christian:

  1. When you pray for wisdom, as you should in the planning of any venture or project, do you really expect wisdom to be given, or is it just a hope that may never be realized?
  2. What is your expectation of yourself?
  3. What do you think God expects of you?

It’s not fair to ask you these if I’m not willing to answer them myself. So, here are my answers: When I pray for wisdom, I expect God to give it; I’ve never been shamed in this expectation. I expect to give my all to any task I accept. And I believe God expects me to strive to XL (excel) at any task he asks me to undertake, including my daily work as an employee or employer.

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait expectantly.      —Psalm 5:3

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