Thursday, September 6, 2012

The importance of great expectations

by Richard L. Weaver II, Ph.D.
Throughout my life, I have always expected good things to happen.  It could be a result of my family, education, or many experiences, but I think it may be something else.  From a very early age — as far back as I can remember — I always did well in school.  For all the home work and preparation I did for my classes, I was continually rewarded positively.  This buoyed my confidence, of course, but also, it propelled me to continue in the same direction.  Positive results provide a template for continued similar performance.  
I would read, explore, and learn with a great deal of interest and enthusiasm.  I was what some teachers defined as “a teacher’s student” — well liked, confident, active, involved, and informed.
I can’t remember ever engaging in a new project or taking on a new task when I did not have great expectations going in — great expectations not just for getting through the project or task but getting through with excellence.  I’m an extremely competitive person; however, I was so confident in my skills and abilities, that throughout my education, I seldom worried about others.  I didn’t have to compete, for I knew (at the outset) I would excel.
What I have discovered is that the worldview you adopt — having great expectations for success — can affect every aspect of your life.  It doesn’t matter when or where it happens nor does it matter the stimulus. Suddenly (perhaps it is an evolving reality! you expect good things to happen in every facet of your life from health, personal and family relationships, to friends, career, and abundant prosperity.  
Great expectations become a self-fulfilling prophecy.  They have the power to alter your actions and, thus, come true.  Put another way, if you don't have great expectations, they are less likely to happen.
I knew, for several examples of self-fulfilling prophecies, that when I first took swimming lessons, that I would succeed and learn to swim.  (I followed with swim-team competitions, and all of the American Red Cross lifesaving classes.)  I knew that as a youngster, when I would sell pot holders door-to-door, that I would be successful.  (I sold out.)  I knew that if I wanted to befriend someone, he or she (mostly females), would become my friend.  (I had a large number of female friends.)  I knew that when I ran for student council, that I would serve on the council. (I did for 3 years.)
Were there failures?  Of course.  But, great expectations can guide your losses just as they do your victories.  That is, when I ran for president of the student body in high school, I took the loss in stride.  It was a positive loss (never one where I considered myself a failure), and considering the responsibilities tied to the position — which I did not know about prior to running — winning the office would have been a serious detriment to my studies.
When I didn’t get tenure at the University of Massachusetts, it was a blow to my ego and to my self-confidence, it is true. Considering the other senior faculty members at Massachusetts who duplicated my expertise and credentials, I knew there was no way to succeed there.  In that discharge, however, I never lost great expectations.  I believed that a new position would increase my opportunities and successes., and when I won the interview and landed a job at Bowling Green State University, it was the fulfillment of a dream.
Having two teachers for parents, it was not a surprise that I would pursue teaching as a career (after changing from pre-medicine).  But, when I set my goal to be a teacher, I wanted to influence as many students as I could.  That was the very same goal I had as I started writing college textbooks; they were simply an extension of my teaching.  What better teaching position could I have acquired than directing a large, basic, speech-communication course?  Talk about having influence!  (I taught over 80,000 students in my career as a teacher.)
Speaking of writing college textbooks, that exercise, too, resulted from great expectations.  I was first asked to write by a student-colleague of mine at the University of Michigan, but when I said yes to her, I really had no doubt the book, Speech/Communication     (Van Nostrand, 1974) would be a success. Van Nostrand’s list was purchased by Random House, and the same book was re-named (by me!), Communicating Effectively and went through several editions until McGraw-Hill purchased the Random House list, and the book became one of their best sellers and has gone through ten editions!  (12 editions counting the first two editions of the first book)  Talk about successful  great expectations!
Have there been failures in my writing?  Of course.  Based on my success with the books mentioned in the previous paragraph, I wrote two for the publishing company, Prentice-Hall.  With the exception of one called Research in Speech Communication which I wrote with Raymond K. Tucker (senior author because of his seniority), and Cynthia Berryman-Fink, and sold well, I had two books, Understanding Public Communication and Understanding Business Communication that went nowhere.

Offsetting these two failures, I had wonderful success with a HarperCollins textbook, Understanding Interpersonal Communication that went through seven editions.  I was writing these textbooks, writing close to 100 academic articles, giving speeches, and directing a basic speech-communication course all at the same time.  For me, it was a gratifying fulfillment and, at the same time, anecdotal proof that a worldview of great expectations works.
In relationships, great expectations offered numerous opportunities to date and then find a relationship partner with whom I have lived for more than 45 years.  They (great expectations) supplied a family life that has been truly exceptional, supportive, encouraging, and positive.
If I were to suggest a bottom line to this essay, I would end in the way I began: “From a very early age — as far back as I can remember — I always did well in school.  For all the home work and preparation I did for my classes, I was continually rewarded positively.  This buoyed my confidence, of course, but also, it propelled me to continue in the same direction.  

Positive results provide a template for continued similar performance.”  I truly believe that success in school, for me, is what allowed or prompted, if you will, the production of (or adoption of the worldview)  great expectations.  And it is those great expectations that have, on a continuing basis, resulted in the great successes I have experienced.
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Jason Osborn, at web site EzineArticles, has a brief essay, “Great Life - How to Live Your Life Full of Happiness and Success,” that offers three suggestions: 1) Do what makes you happy, 2) Create successful habits, and 3) Learn to enjoy life.

From the Associated Content from Yahoo web site, in the essay, “Five Steps to Live a Happy and Successful Life” (February 8, 2006), JS Anandrahi offers five rules.  They are the rule of 1) priority, 2) learning, 3) sincerity, 4) discipline, and 5) change.
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Copyright September, 2012, by And Then Some Publishing L.L.C.


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