Recently I was pondering a relationship that I have with somebody where we haven’t always seen eye to eye. It’s inevitable, to come across other individuals in the world who do not think the same way that you do.
I talk a lot about belief in others and even my life mission statement of “being a catalyst that propels others into their destiny through a foundation of belief.” But the truth is, I still fail.
I found myself placing somebody that I know and truly care about, in this box that I have kept them in for many years. Labeling them, putting particularly negative expectations on them, ensuring they would meet them.
And the sad fact is, they always will. As long as that is what I am constantly expecting and looking for. I won’t see the great things they have accomplished or the hurdles and difficulties they have overcome. Because I have chosen not to. I’m looking for the bad, the upsets, that will prove my point correct.
It’s not ok.
When I was 18, I had my first corporate job and still had a LOT to learn. One day I called out “sick” because it was my boyfriend’s birthday and I wanted to spend the day with him…not work. I was young, carefree and, well, stupid. Since I was 18, I rationalized in my mind that I was an “adult” capable of making my own decisions and having to give no explanations to anyone. So I got up, got ready, and headed to my boyfriends house.
I went through my day, having a great time until I received a phone call from my mom asking me where I was because she was told that I was sick. This is where I made a bit of a mistake. I forgot my Mother and Step-Father were good friends with my boss. So when my boss called them to say hi and see how I was doing, they had no idea anything was wrong. At the time I lived with my Father on the other side of town. So my mom assumed perhaps I was sick and would reach out to me to find out (and probably offer to bring me some chicken soup).
When she found out that wasn’t the case, that’s when she called my Dad. (Dun Dun Dun!)
I remember walking through the door and my Dad saying he wanted to have a “talk.” My Dad is a man of few words. So when he wants to talk and has anger and rage in his eyes, I knew it was not good.
He asked me why I lied about being sick (sidetone: If there is a phrase that you’re Father is known for saying to you throughout your entire life, my Dad’s was, “I HATE liars.”)
I gave him the whole, “I’m 18 and can do whatever I want.” shpeel. He wasn’t having it. I told him I didn’t understand why this was such a big deal, “so and so” does stuff like this all the time. I didn’t do anything crazy.
That’s when he taught me about expectations and how I have always set high standards for myself, and so others expect me to hold to them. So when I fall, I fall far. He used all of the Dad phrases in this conversation, you know them. Phrases like, “What were you thinking?” and “I’m disappointed in you.” but the one that really got me, was “You’re better than that.”
Needless to say, being the devastated over-achiever I was, I went to my room, locked myself in, mapped out a life plan, set short term and long term goals, re-evaluated all of my personal relationships and taped a daily focus statement to my bedroom door (I’m not even kidding).
I never lied about being sick again. I almost never call out even when I am sick. I have to be deathly ill not hold to my commitments. But why? Truly, my 18-year-old self could have just said, “Ok, dad. Whatever you say. I’m an adult. I’ll do whatever I want.” and I think sometimes I did (but you know, respectfully).
But there was something in that statement that hit me hard. So, lets take a minute and unpack it a bit.
“You’re better than that.”
- He believes in me and believes that I am better than the behavior that I have exhibited. He expects more.
- Who I am and the thing that I have done are 2 separate things. My mistakes are not associated with my identity and who I have determined myself to be. He recognizes that and calls me out for it.
- This statement is rooted in love, because he chooses to believe the better in me, regardless of my mistake.
- He is sharing the reality of his perception of me not meeting my own and his expectations of me.
I’ve lived this. And, as mentioned previously, not lived this.
I’m guilty of not always expecting the best in others. We all are. The important thing to remember is that if we want their best, we need to expect their best and have enough courage to let them know if they aren’t living in it (but STILL expect them to).
People naturally tend to reside within the realm we have created for them. They either feel that they will never be able to please us and forfeit even trying, living up to our poor expectations of them, or realize that someone other than themselves, thinks they are capable of more and they want to achieve those expectations.
Obviously others have expectations on us as well. As my Father had on me. One thing I want to be VERY clear about is what we choose to do with the negative expectations that others have placed on us. Yes, we naturally tend to live within these expectations, however, we DO have a choice. I have worked for a boss that I felt I could never please. No matter what I did. So, I grew stagnant. I personally consider that season as one of my greatest failures while being in a position of leadership. Stagnating my growth was MY doing and I blamed somebody else for it while wasting my own time. It’s YOUR life, live it as such.
We should be doing everything we can to ensure others know and feel that we believe in their best. This is the way we cultivate growth. Let’s treat people that way.
Is there a time somebody believed better for you? Did it change you? Is there a time somebody had low or poor expectations of you? What did you do to overcome? Please share in the comments.