Seth Gogin Talks About The Misfortune Of Tiny Expectations (And The Trap Of Misleading Dreams)

There’s nothing worse than creating expectations for someone that don’t serve him well. Talk about damaging someone! But many schools, leaders and peers constantly do that to children’s and grown-ups, without even realizing the harm they are doing.

That’s why Seth Godin warns us for the dangerous of creating the wrong expectations. He talks about the well known disempowering expectations we all create when we don’t believe in someone capacities.

But then he talks about something as dangerous, or, even more, dangerous, than having low expectations of someone.

Read Seth’s post below to see what it is…

Ask a hundred students at Harvard Business School if they expect to be up for a good job when they graduate, and all of them will say “yes.”


Ask a bright ten-year-old girl if she expects to have a chance at a career as a mathematician, and the odds are she’s already been brainwashed into saying “no.”


Expectations work for two reasons. First, they give us the enthusiasm and confidence to do hard work. Second, like a placebo, they subtly change our attitude and give us the resilience to make it through the rough spots. “Eventually” gives us the energy to persist.


When people are pushed to exchange their passion and their effort for the false solace of giving up and lowering their expectations, we all lose. And (almost as bad, in the other direction) when they substitute the reality of expectations for the quixotic quest of impossibly large, unrealistic dreams, we lose as well.


Expectations that don’t match what’s possible are merely false dreams. And expectations that are too small are a waste. We need teachers and leaders and peers who will help us dig in deeper and discover what’s possible, so we can push to make it likely.


If we can help just one person refuse to accept false limits, we’ve made a contribution. If we can give people the education, the tools and the access they need to reach their goals, we’ve made a difference. And if we can help erase the systemic stories, traditions and policies that push entire groups of people to insist on less, we’ve changed the world.


As you can see, as dangerous as having low expectations of someone, is creating unrealistic expectations that later will not be met. We must be very conscious of the impact of what we say have on other. One single word can empower someone to do great things, or can destroy him.

Related reading: Mohammed Qahtani Was The 2015 Toastmasters Public Speaking World Champion. His Speech Will Change The Way You Think About Words… Forever

The tragedy of small expectations (and the trap of false dreams)
Image credits: Avclark


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