Great Expectations

Once a month, we have a company-wide meeting. As we've grown in that last 2 years, we've had to continually find bigger spaces. At this point we're tightly packed in 5 couches and 10+ extra office chairs crammed in any corners with a good line of sight to the screen.

The venue has changed, but the format of the meetings has generally stayed the same. We review our performance for the last month, and then we talk about how we can improve, whether it's personally or as a company.

Our CEO is really into self help and business books, and often recommends that we read his favorites. Our discussions are centered on his latest realization or lesson that he has learned, and the message is delivered in a TED talk fashion. There's always a commitment that we make at the end, too. I have no doubt that he was good missionary.

“When we feel like we don't have the ability to meet someone's expectations, we feel frustrated and badly about ourselves, and they usually aren't happy with us either. Every party loses. When we exceed people's expectations, we blow them away! They feel great about you, and you walk away feeling proud! It feels great.”

This was the main—paraphrased—message of our meeting this morning. The challenge was to continually exceed our clients' expectations, as well as the expectations of our fellow co-workers. Break!

This morning I also received some text messages from an old friend of mine. She was feeling some of the anxiety that revolves around new relationships. I really related to the unease she was feeling about a new friend of hers. She had started investing in them a bit more emotionally, but suddenly something happened that made her doubt where she stood with them. She said to me,

“I do not know how to have people enter my life without losing my damn mind.”

As I've been working towards making more and deeper friendships in my life, I've encountered a really similar, if not identical, concern. What if they just don't want to hang out with you as much as you want to hang out with them? What are their expectations of your relationship?

Ah, expectations.

I'm realizing that MOST of the turmoil that I feel in my life comes from feeling like I'm not meeting expectations.

I am most stressed at work when I have more tasks than I can complete. My friendships suffer when we're not there for each other in the way that the other expects. I give myself the hardest time for not living up to my own expectations, as well as what I perceive to be God's expectations of me.

Actually, those are the two I feel like I disappoint the most: myself and God.

During the recent LDS General Conference there was a sermon given by Jeffery R. Holland. It seemed to be a standout favorite amongst my friends. Here's a quote that sums up the message nicely:

Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them.

So, the expectation is that I try? When it comes to most things in life I measure my growth and performance against an idea of perfection. No wonder I'm prone to disappoint.

It seems that one of the most important things I can do is define expectations. It's comforting to know where you stand with a friend, and what your relationships means to them. I feel so much better if I know where I stand with my boss, and if I'm accomplishing the things that are being asked of me.

I want to be better at putting my expectations of myself and others into words so that I can evaluate if they're truly realistic. I'm not sure if I have the gall to ask everyone to define their expectations of me (I'm pretty sure I'd scare away all my friends if I sat down for a DTR on a regular basis), but maybe recognizing how important expectations are in relationships will be enough for me to improve.

Most of all, I have to be at peace with occasionally tripping while trying to exceed expectations as often as I can.