Between expectations and reality—challenge and progress and discouragement and frustration

For years, I had unrealistic expectations regarding a close friend. I was continually frustrated and he was constantly discouraged because of the unrealistic gap between expectations and reality. It was my faulty judgment that was causing the strain and friction in our relationship. When, in my mind, I “lowered the bar” closer to reality, my frustration subsided and the relationship improved.

I have another close relationship in which I have erred in the opposite way: my expectations have been too low and the person has stalled in her growth and development. I need to raise the bar and encourage her to start climbing.

This is a complex topic. Psychologists, leaders, parents, and others have wrestled with this issue and the questions it begets, such as:

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having high expectations of people?
  2. What are the advantages and disadvantages of having low expectations of people?
  3. How can expectations be set such that the disadvantages are minimized and the advantages maximized?
  4. When is it acceptable to have expectations of people and when is it none of my business?
  5. How does this expectations/reality syndrome apply to the organizations and businesses I relate to? (Are my expectations of my cell phone provider too high or too low? How about local restaurants? The schools my children attend?)

Think of a current relationship in which you are continually frustrated. Do you need to recalibrate your expectations? Identify one of your relationships in which increased expectations would be beneficial. What would be a good, first step?

Leaders, here are some additional thoughts about setting expectations in your organization.

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One Reply to “Between expectations and reality—challenge and progress and discouragement and frustration”

  1. I am sorry;? But I cannot find another way to connect with you. I have a leading academic and theological and focused practical global academic institutional positioned in Kenya, a movement in whom I awhile I recently lost my life long personal coach.

    I have 200 churches with a repeating evolution of 15 churches per week. I expectant to have a thousand churches by the end of 2018.

    I have listened and “watched” your posts for sometime. Do you provide coaching, cost is not an issue, for younger leaders to profit from your role as coach!? I’m sorry if this format is inappropriate. I might not have done enough searching for venues of responding to your available ministry; any such focus for my question. I would appreciate your response, either way you might be able to help.

    God called me to Kenya in 2017. Since then we have built a training base of 500 pastors representing 2500 congregants and an additional connection directing ministry to 2300 teenagers in local (Eldoret) high school tribes. I met with the Parliament chairmen and have been reassured his investment and creation of Christisn ministry here in Eldoret and abound. I hope to hear from you Don. Thank you.
    George R Cooper

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