Great Expectations
By: David Freund, Chief Leadership Officer

At first glance, you may think that I am referring to the book Charles Dickens wrote in 1861. While I am a fan of Dickens, I am partial to A Christmas Carol. My reason for using this title is to introduce the idea of having Great Expectations. Quite frankly, I believe we have lost the idea of having great expectations for ourselves and others. Please allow me to explain.

As parents, we want our children to excel but whenever they struggle we rush in to help them. We call the teacher if we think that they have been treated unfairly.  In one case I am familiar with, the mother actually wrote her sons college English papers so he would have an easier time in school. Our children receive trophies for participating regardless of their level of competitive excellence. We have even come to a point where on some college campuses young people can have pet therapy sessions because they do not know how to deal with disappointment or someone that does not agree with them. We settle for politicians on both sides of the aisle who are far from statesmen and journalists who spend more time sharing their particular viewpoint rather than seeking out and reporting the facts. Why is this all acceptable to us? Why do we tolerate this?

So now that I am sure I have offended just about everyone who is reading this, please allow me to get to my point. If we do not have great expectations for ourselves, our direct reports, and our organizations, we are destined for mediocrity.  That is right we are settling for mediocrity. We as a society have surrendered the desire for excellence to a life of laziness and just getting by. What is worse, we have diminished the true value and capabilities of our children, our employees, and our fellow citizens. We have told them that we do not think they are worth much at all and that is the real tragedy. The good news is we can change!

When we have high expectations for ourselves, we will focus on our growth. When we have high expectations for our children, they will see our example and strive for excellence and mastery. When we have high expectations for our employees, they see that we value them, want to invest in them and they will become innovators that will propel our companies to levels beyond what we can imagine.

Some will say I am expecting too much. Well, in 1944 we expected 18-year-olds to storm the beaches of Normandy, they did it valiantly, and they are accurately called the Greatest Generation. Without apology, I am going to have Great Expectations for myself, my family, my co-workers, my community and my country!