What is a realistic expectation in business?

Two clients – two case studies – two bagfuls of pain

Wearing my hat as business mentor, I listened to a client explain how she had been delighted to be employed by a large American set up. Just the right job for an enthusiastic college graduate. And after all, they would train her, hold her hand at the beginning in important meetings, and develop a career path together.

Was it naivety, or just a fear to verify the facts in advance? Because at it happened, she came to realise that she had been employed as a stop-gap measure. She lasted barely a year in the place.

But here’s the catch. Until recently, she continued to blame herself for not making it work out.

Situation number two is more delicate. It is a tale of two sides who really want to broker a deal together. No doubt – the will is in place. However,one or the other assumes that the second person will act in a manner that, in reality, is not going to happen. The result? Numerous e-mail and or phone calls via third parties just to stay in the same place. All very agonising for both sides.

Why? These are classic cases of missed expectations. If people were to ask a couple of direct, pertinent questions – firmly not rudely – then life would be much simpler.

The latest posting by Dr Robert Brooks relates to this issue: It is advisable to spend 5 minutes and real the whole blog. In brief, Brooks observes how many of us are fooled into false expectations, both privately and in commerce. The antidote is often an extra bit of “self-compassion”, which many parents and teachers are not familiar with!

Brooks concludes:

…….you might wish to keep in mind the words of the late Willie Stargell, a Hall of Fame baseball player for the Pittsburgh Pirates. I have quoted his words in previous writings. When asked after his retirement what he thought baseball had taught him, he replied:

Baseball taught me what I need to survive in the world. The game has given the patience to learn and succeed. As much as I was known for my homers, I was also known for my strikeouts. The strikeout is the ultimate failure. I struck out 1,936 times. But I’m proud of my strikeouts, for a feel that to succeed one must first fail; the more you fail the more you learn about succeeding. The person who has never tried and failed will never succeed. Each time I walked away from the plate after a strikeout, I learned something, whether it was about my swing, not seeing the ball, the pitcher, or the weather conditions, I learned something. My success is the product of the knowledge extracted from my failures.

Stargell certainly possessed a healthy, self-compassionate attitude towards mistakes (strikeouts). When he came to bat he expected to do well, but also realized that when he did not, he would avoid a self-defeating, harsh assessment. Instead, his plan was to learn from the setback so that his next at bat might prove more successful. Although it is difficult to change negative scripts, to not do so is to continue to lead a life of disappointment, anxiety, and unhappiness rather than one filled with optimism and resilience.

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