Expectations are a funny thing. Often they are completely reasonable, such as with the rules of the road. You expect that everyone will stop at the red light and go on the green…and speed up on that yellow. Other times our expectations can be a little bit “off.” Does anyone really believe that a “miracle” weight loss pill is the “secret the fitness industry doesn’t want you to know”? As a matter of fact, yes. Millions of people spend billions of dollars on such “secrets” each year in the belief that chemistry can replace hard work.
Expectations, however, are an important feature of the human psychology. They are mental “leaps of faith” that allow for a mostly smooth functioning daily life. If we had no expectation that people would obey traffic signals, there would be a lot more chaos on the road. If we didn’t form expectations, the future would be a dark, faceless place filled with uncertainty. In many ways, expectations drive behavior. When we “expect” a result, we begin to act in a manner that promotes that outcome. Problems only arise when expectations are either not realistic or when two people doing the same thing each have expectations for a different outcome. There is, of course, a business application for this, but let me first provide a personal illustration.