Great Expectations

I’ve been reading recently about the Pygmalian Theory, or SFP (self fulfilling prophecy).

In short, the gist is that people rise up to what you expect of them.  It works both ways – if you expect someone to be great they actually perform better and likewise if you expect them to under-perform they are far more likely to do so.

It made me think about being a parent.  As this season is still (albeit far-off) on the horizon I’m quite keen to figure out my plan before I actually need to have one – if that makes sense.  Of course it’s all theory now so may end up being absolute rubbish come the time….  but here goes.

What if I were to tell my kids that they were the smartest, the kindest, the most athletically gifted?  Rather than expect them to get good grades, perform well, (though I would hope for this!) I would set their own expectations of themselves – that they believe they can achieve all things.

Bit like the case of Roger Bannister and the 4 minute mile – once people knew the 4 minute mile could be achieved, many others then went on to reach this goal in a short time after.

What if I were to tell new starters that they were selected because they were the cream of the crop – would this set a standard of excellence in the workplace?

What if, what if.  Worth a thought though.  By just finding the best in people and setting a standard of excellence I have an opportunity to actually change my world… even if just a little bit.

6 Thoughts on “Great Expectations

  1. As a parent all you ever want is your children to be happy in what they do, secure in who they are and to tell you if something’s wrong.

    The BBC published an interesting article on the subject you raise. It’s conclusion was that there is a difference between telling a child they are smart and congratulating them for trying hard. According to a leading psychologist the better route is to tell them they did great because they tried hard. If you just tell a child they are smart, the danger is that they become lazy. If you reward effort, they will try harder in the future and reach for the stars.

    I’m not sure which is true, but I certainly know destructive power of telling people they are not good enough. I’ve seen that all too often in the workplace.

  2. Sherrod,

    I think the following short film harmonizes with some of the thoughts you’ve been reflecting and sharing.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao

    At the same time, I think there might be wisdom in communicating “great expectations” within the parameters of a person’s God-given contribution qualities.

  3. Pingback: Empowered? « What Not To Do In Love And Business

  4. I saw the name of your blog post – Great Expectations What Not To Do In Love And Business – while I was Googling on the internet a few minutes ago. Would it be ok if I put a link back to http://whatnottodoinloveandbusiness.com/great-expectations/ on my site?

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