Expectations

 

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The word ‘expectations’ like the meaning suggests is pregnant with expectations! All kinds of expectations, without limits, no boundaries, adjust themselves according to the context, are situational and are potentially infinite. It is like the universe, ever expanding, infinite and unbounded. Expectations are all pervading and no one can escape from them. Everyone has all kinds of expectations from life, from their partners, friends, job, society and ultimately life. It is one of the most basic instincts in all living things even animals and insects. Just look at a spider waiting in its web expecting a prey to pass by and get trapped. Look at the crocodile waiting in water, with just eyes out, expecting a calf or a deer to stop by for a gulp. It is amazing how it is built into our psyche, we don’t need to be trained or instilled with it.

Expectations start right from infancy and keep growing as we grow and later assume unexpected proportions so much so that they start driving our life. The nature of expectations too changes as we grow. During childhood, they are innocent limited and most flexible. The child of a beggar on the streets is happy with an odd snack or a broken toy. However, a kid from a well to do family expects a pizza or a burger for a snack and a remote controlled toy or a tab to play with. Here the situation has shaped the expectations. However, expectations have an uncanny ability of growing exponentially. As we grow, the expectations start growing like water hyacinth, slowly but surely until the entire lake or pond is covered. Just picture this, in school, we expect our parents to buy us a better school bag, better compass box, better stationery, better tiffin box, better story book etc. In college we expect better clothes, better accessories, better shades, better bike, better girlfriend etc. Further in life, when we start earning, we start expecting a better job, better pay, better car, and better house and now we find ourselves completely trapped in our own and others’ expectations! That’s right; now others also start expecting from us, our boss, our spouse, our children, our colleagues and even our friends. Day in and day out, we are under the spell of expectations. Our boss expects us to perform better at workplace, put in more hours, more effort and more innovation. Even the team that rolls up to you starts expecting you to fulfill their expectations!

After a hard day’s work, when you come home to relax, you face the brunt of your spouse’s and children’s expectations. Just when we expect the expectations to reduce, they bounce back with even greater force and on a larger scale. However, they are not always bad. If they are nurtured and handled properly, can have a positive influence on the situation. God forbid, but if you find yourself in a bad situation, expecting the situation to improve can help in cultivating a positive outlook in that situation. It is kind of a double edged sword, you have to do a tightrope walk if you want to come out unscathed. If you drill down a bit, expectations are results of attachment. Our attachment to things, our near and dear ones, places and situations triggers expectation. Humans by nature are selfish and they expect a reciprocal gesture for every deed, feeling and action. Being part of the society, we are all caught in the web of expectations, all the time. Even God has not been spared of our expectations. Don’t we always expect good health, wealth and life from him irrespective of our deeds? This becomes the cause of our misery. Now we cannot get rid of all the expectations but can certainly keep them minimum and in proper perspective. Not expecting at all or expecting the unexpected seems to be the mantra here. I can’t help but quote Alexander Pope:

“Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed”

 

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Failure……Really???

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While going through the newspaper today morning, I stumbled upon an article “Bolster your CV with a failure”. Wonder why, of all the news and the articles I chose this one to read. The article was about entrepreneurs who did not succeed in their first shot at what they wanted to do. They initiated startups but due to some reasons did not work out the way they wanted it to. They would be branded as ‘failures’, until now! Like Bob Dylan would say ‘For the times they are a-changin’, times are surely changing and for the better. Some of the big corporate companies are hiring these very people! The reason being, they have been through the rough and tumble of the game. They had the guts to dream and give it shot. They toiled hard with blood and sweat. They’ve seen it and did it all. Do you need any better reason? Remember, things we learn in a ‘failure’ stay with us for the rest of our lives. These corporates want to use precisely this experience and insight in their ongoing battle to gain an upper hand in the market. They feel that these battle hardened men and women are better equipped to handle real world situations than the number crunching wiz kids who have fancy MBA titles. So times have really changed and it is no longer a taboo to fail.

We just keep forgetting the famous examples of people who never gave up. Abraham Lincoln was unsuccessful as a businessman, as a lawyer and even as a politician. Edison’s teachers in school considered him incapable of learning anything! He was fired from his first two jobs and he tried close to 1000 times before he succeeded in inventing the light bulb. Einstein could not read until he was seven. One of his teachers described him as mentally slow, unsociable and forever lost in foolish dreams! Steve Jobs’ attempts to get HP and Atari interested in his personal computer were rejected. Walt Disney was fired by a newspaper editor for lacking imagination and good ideas. In 1947, a certain Norma Jean Baker was dropped by 20th Century-Fox because the producer thought she was unattractive and couldn’t act. Amitabh Bachchan was rejected for having a deep baritone by All India Radio and was considered too tall by earlier film makers. Mahatma Gandhi was not successful as a lawyer. One thing is clear from these examples, all the great mean and women had much greater vision, wider horizon and a bigger canvas to paint. Their talent and creativity did not fit into the conventional mold that time. It would be interesting to know what all these men and women who rejected the famous personalities, thought at a later stage once they found out you know what………

After all what we perceive as failure is just something that did not work out as expected or the way we thought or perceived it. Something that did not fit in our narrow conventional frame of mind. Something that did not meet the expectations. So it’s all relative, perceived, not conforming to a set of human made rules. Our society and education has instilled a deep embedded fear of failure in all of us. Or maybe the devil in us derives pleasure in others’ failures. Failures have so far been stigmatized. No credit is given for the intention and the effort. Instead, the focus is on the result. But that should hopefully be changing now. With the society and the corporate world recognizing the intent and the efforts, this could have a positive multiplier effect and people would be encouraged to come up with groundbreaking ideas, innovations and processes, ultimately resulting in a better world. Who knows, the word ‘failure’ may one day be removed from the dictionary.