I like teaching workshops. On one hand, I’m humbled by the knowledge, insights, and challenges of those attending. I’m invigorated by the persistence and passion woven into the stories that unfold. And I’m grateful for the real-world perspectives of people who are focused on doing a great job and making a difference at work.
Sometimes, though, I’m surprised by the antique-mindsets, narrow thinking, and last century’s approaches that show up. Occasionally, a strong-voiced person attempts to spew negativity, closed-mindedness, or woe-is-me tales. But on rare days, I’m left stunned. That’s what happened recently.
We were discussing the power of beliefs and expectations, and the concept behind “The Pygmalion Effect:” i.e. where people experience that others “tend to behave as you expect they will.” What happens is we act in accordance with our expectations, which in turn, enables our expectations to become true.
During the discussion, a woman spoke up for the first time in our half-day together with memorable words: “I decided a long time ago to expect nothing from my staff,” she said. “That way, I’ll never be disappointed.” As she shared more about her situation and obstacles, it was clear The Pygmalion Effect was alive and well in her company, even though she thought she was avoiding it.
Contrast her thinking with people who are winning at working. These are the people who expect the best from themselves and others. They believe people, at least most, are amazing, talented, innovative, and resourceful. They expect that and they find it.
As playwright and novelist, W. Somerset Maugham said, “It is a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” That’s what people who are winning at working tend to experience.
What do your results say about your expectations? Picture two areas at work where you’re not getting the results you’d like. Identify at least one belief or expectation that might be blocking your results in each case. Think the older generation is resistant to change or the younger one too self-absorbed? Think your boss doesn’t trust you or a coworker doesn’t like you? Think you’re too inexperienced to lead? We all have beliefs that impact results. What are some of yours?
Our beliefs show up in our actions and behaviors, affecting relationships, influence, and outcomes, either positively or negatively. Don’t underestimate their impact. You decide what thoughts fill your day. Choose well. Your thoughts determine your reality.