“The power of Positive Expectations”

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21st Feb 2024

As negative feelings go, it’s widely accepted that pessimism pretty much tops the charts. What is not quite as well accepted is the power of optimism -The power of positive expectations

While you may have your reservations about ‘The Secret’ type of ‘If you think you will get a parking slot near the supermarket, you surely will’ assurances, there is evidence to suggest that positive expectations have a powerful impact on outcomes.

Have positive expectations—and get positive results! As the following story shows, there may be a powerful lesson in this for all of us.

In an experiment in a school in Texas, USA, the principal came up with a brilliant plan to ensure outstanding results for his school.

The top thirty students in Grade 7 were handpicked and put into a class under the supervision of the top three teachers in the school. The objective: to train the students to top the state examination and bring glory to the school.

The teachers got to work in right earnest. Delighted to be selected as the top three in the school, they worked extra hard on their brilliant students. Projects upon projects were assigned, extra classes were held over weekends and the teachers were delighted to help the students individually, to help them ace the state-level examination.

The kids too were enthused. They would quite happily agree to skip the odd baseball game in favour of maths class. Their parents were thrilled to see their wards being selected.

Family holidays were postponed to ensure that the kids didn’t miss a day of school. The parents took extra care to follow up on homework and assignments. At the end of the year, when the results were declared, it was found that the batch of thirty students had in fact done outstandingly well, ranking in the top percentile of the state’s schoolchildren.

A visibly delighted school principal called the three teachers and congratulated them on their achievement.

The teachers were rather self-effacing, preferring to attribute their success to the fabulously talented kids and their diligence. ‘It was such a pleasure teaching such exceptionally bright kids!’ they concurred.

Then the principal revealed the secret. These kids were NOT exceptional, Nor the brightest of the lot, Not by a mile.

They were just thirty kids picked at random from across the three divisions and handed over to the three teachers.

The teachers were taken aback but were quick to rationalize—after all, THEY were the three best teachers. They had obviously worked their magic.

‘Well, not quite,’ revealed the principal. ‘I just put all the teachers’ names into a hat and pulled out three. And you happened to be those three!’

So what really happened? With thirty average students and three randomly picked teachers, how was the school able to deliver outstanding results?

The answer: the power of positive expectations!

The teachers, sensing their special status and the expectations from them, worked extra hard, Longer hours, Better preparation, More projects.

They saw sparks of genius in their students, and worked harder to help them shine brighter.

And the students, delighted to be hand-picked, slogged harder, made sacrifices and willed themselves to rise to their potential.

And the environment—their parents, the school—helped them along.

There’s a message here for all of us. As parents, As team leaders, As humans.

Expect more, Expect good things to happen from your team, your spouse, your kids, your world & you will find them willing themselves to deliver on those positive expectations.

Also, don’t keep those expectations secret. Share them, Talk about your positive expectations, Let the world know.

Don’t let the fear of failure—the fear of what if—stop you in your tracks.

Expectations have the power of making reality fit in.

Tell your child he is clumsy, careless, always dropping stuff … And guess what? He will live up to your expectations.

Every time he drops something, he will tell himself ‘that’s me’ or ‘can’t help it, I’m like that’!

And later, he’ll probably rationalize that ‘My parents always told me I was clumsy. They were real quick to spot that in me!’

On the other hand, you can tell him he’s really smart, and destined to do well. And then watch him work extra hard to solve those tricky algebra sums. ‘I can do it. My dad always tells me I am smart. Maybe I just need to practice harder.’ And the harder he practices, well, the smarter he gets.

At work too, the power of positive expectations holds good. Expect your team to do well, and watch them go the extra mile to ensure they don’t let you down. So the choice is yours really. Expect good things & watch it come true. Else, of course, feel free to expect failure like many people do & say, I told you so.

Stay positive, believe it will happen & stay blessed forever.