Too many of us only have one expectation when, really, we should at least have two.
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I used to only expect the best of myself and others.  But let's face it, that's not reality!

Maybe it's our expectations that set us up for failure? 
"I thought we were past this as a team!" he told me on the phone. 
I love this person. Let's call him Frank. Frank coaches a college sports team and was hugely frustrated that his team had regressed. 
A few weeks before this phone call I had visited his program and I left having seen and been a part of one of their best and most productive practices of the year. A few days later, I saw that they had a convincing win over a tough opponent. I thought all was great, but then he told me about the day after I left. 
Apparently the team came into that practice with very low energy, choosing not to talk and they weren't seemingly doing anything to adjust and get better. Frank lost it! 
"I thought we were past this!" he yelled at his team. Frank then went on to use some pretty choice words and punishments to try and change their behaviors, something we have worked on moving away from.

Frank wasn't proud of what he did. He would do it differently if he could do it over again.
But it wasn’t the team’s behavior that tripped Frank up. It was HIS expectation that they should have learned their lesson and moved on by then, that created the emotional outburst. 
Too often it is OUR expectations that cause the pain and frustration.
I've worked with Frank personally for two years. We have worked long and hard on learning to control controllables. We've worked on managing emotions, creating autonomy for the players, and adjusting to the variables that arise in games and practice. And to his credit, he has grown immensely!
So calmly, I said, "Frank, honestly, I thought YOU were past this. We've worked on this for 24 months." 
He quietly chuckled and agreed. 
I didn't say that to be flippant or to "put him in his place." I said that so he could see that very few of us ever "learn a lesson" and never err in that manner again. I've learned many a lesson about self-control when it comes to what and how much I eat. But very often when I see a maple cinnamon roll, I capitulate only to later say "I'm never having that again." 
Now that’s a small example of what really happens for just about all of us.  Remember, becoming your best self as a person and as a team is about progress, not perfection.
Honestly, in what areas are you learning and relearning your lesson? Should it be expected that you never fail in that regard again? Who can live up to that standard????
What really upset my friend Frank was that the kids did not reach HIS expectations.
It's often our expectations that create the most havoc in our lives. But it’s not that expectations are bad to have. It’s just that too often we only hold one expectation when really two are better than one.
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Two Expectations Are Better Than One
If we expect to go play a round of golf and hit the ball very well never having to hit out of a tough lie, it’s very likely that we lose control when we block one in the rough. We get upset, stray from principles, hack a shot or speed up our process and hit a poor ball that often leaves us with an even worse shot on the next one. Then the round can run south. 
It might be better to have two expectations on the course. I expect to do well and execute on shots and principles that I have been practicing.  I also expect that I will have a bad lie or stray from principles and be in tough situations.  But if I hold both of these expectations in tension, I have built in for the inevitable setbacks that match the track record of anyone who has ever played golf!
With people, I think we should have two expectations.  So I said, "Frank, I love you and I have to say that I am not surprised at what you did. Because I have two expectations. I fully expect that you can make great choices and exercise  self-control in those situations. But I also fully expect that you won't be perfect and at times will regress." 
God Holds Two Expectations
I hold those two expectations in a healthy tension because that's what I believe God does.  He expects two things of us. He has given us free will and the power to make choices. Since He did that, he must expect that we can make good choices.

But he also knew that we would fail. That's evidenced by the sacrifices in the Old Testament and THE sacrifice of Jesus on the cross. He knows we can make great decisions but He also knows we are going to get it wrong. Luckily for us, God doesn't give up on us.  He doesn’t throw tantrums when we fail or make choices that hurt Him, us, and others.
No. He expects the best while expecting that we will fail.  That doesn’t mean we have to fail.  But we just have a track record as a human race which indicates that moral failure is very, very likely.
What would change in your family life if you held those two expectations together for your children? 
What would happen at work or with clients if you held those two expectations together? 
What would happen in your sport if you expected the best of yourself, your team, and your coaches while also building in for the inevitable blow ups, let downs, and outbursts of anger?
Now of course we need to have a high boundary for when people make poor decisions. There are consequences the same way that there are consequences to our decisions to follow Christ or not. But, what if people saw a a quiet confidence in us that held that boundary while still saying, "I know you will learn and grow from it.”?
Never forget this: Our certainty must be greater than their uncertainty.
I'll be honest, I'm not surprised when people mess up and hurt others. I'm also not surprised when my son continually wets his bed at night because he doesn't want to get up because he is "comfy cozy." As cute as that sounds, it's annoying as anything to go through the same routine once a week!
But rarely does blowing up on him or others create a solution, create a resolve to change, or strengthen our relationship. 
I think more good will be done in relationships, organizations, teams, and God's kingdom when we have a healthy set of expectations, hold healthy boundaries, and treat people according to who they are, not what they do. 
By the way, Frank, if you're reading this, your team WILL do something you have already "learned" and before they do, I hope you are prepared to put your best foot forward. 
PS. I love you regardless of what you choose to do! 
Train To Be Clutch
  • List out your honest expectations for yourself today. What’s the best you expect of yourself?
  • List out the likely hiccups you could face given your track record.
  • List out your expectations for those you lead.
  • List out the curve balls you might see given their track record.
Expect the best.  Prepare for what’s likely.

If you want to find out about the mentoring Frank is involved in go here.  If 1-on1 mentorship isn't for you, I'd highly suggest finding a T2BC Mastermind group that can help you be accountable like I helped Frank. Find out what group suits you here.
With Love

Jamie Gilbert

P.S. I'm carving out 3 time slots next week to jump on the phone with people who want to discuss their particular challenges. Be the first to email

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