My husband and I are regular gad-abouts on Saturdays. (You know I don’t believe I’ve ever written or typed out the word gad-abouts in my entire life… and it’s such a cool-ish word.) Anyway, rarely do we ever just sit still – even during the height of mowing season, Michael always leaves time in his Saturday for our little road trips.
On a recent Saturday we… how do I put this kindly… came across bonehead after bonehead. A man who had no idea how the car wash worked, a woman driver who gave the rest of us a horrible name, etc. They just kept piling up. As we talked about how SO many people seem to struggle these days with simple (and I mean simple) functions, we batted around reason after reason…
- School Systems
- Washington (you have to always give them at least a look when searching for a place to toss blame)
Oh, yeah, we picked up every conceivable rock looking for the “answer.” After a while, we put the loonies out of our mind and settled in to listen to a baseball game on the radio – a favorite pastime. The previous subject was completely out of our minds as Michael drove around the streets where he grew up – his old stomping grounds. He pulled up to a school and began pointing out the things that were different. To the side was a baseball field. He remarked that the only thing different was the fact that they’d moved the fence in… “way in.”
He gestured to the place where the fence was when he played. He was right, they had moved it “way in.”
As we drove off, everything kind of came together in my brain. When a fence is placed on a baseball field – it’s put at a distance to mark “expected” home runs. It’s a goal for every batter who steps to the plate. We all have expectations and goals in our lives, whether we’re on a baseball field or not. Part of the problems we face today may be the fruits of too many fences moved in. The majority of people, today, seem to think of “good enough” the way people once thought of “excellence.”
And it shows.
Schools lower test score requirements, parents lower standards, managers lower expectations, and the government tries to place everything on the bottom shelf. Everyone seems afraid of over-expecting anything from anyone. They think that expecting LESS will cause people to succeed by making them feel good about themselves. After all, we can’t have people getting down on themselves, right? Problem is, when you expect LESS, you get LESS.
Conversely, when you expect MORE from people, very often they reach further than they ever thought possible. Lowering your expectations so others can meet them sounds like the punchline to a bad joke.
We’ve become experts at lowering our expectations to MEET other’s (or our own) performance. We’ve become proficient in saying things like, “It doesn’t matter if you messed up. Tomorrow’s another day. Let’s be happy!” Michael got off the phone with our internet provider a few nights ago and said that the man admitted to making a mistake – and he laughed about it as he owned up to it! Failure has become, not just acceptable, but entertaining. Wow.
“High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation.” – Charles F. Kettering
If the fence on the baseball field had stayed at its original position, the bats would have kept swinging – but the batters would have been swinging harder. Kids today are made the same way they were years ago… what makes them any less capable of hitting the ball as far as their fathers and grandfathers did?
It isn’t fair to look at them and say, “Less is expected of you.”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a romantic relationship, a parent-child relationship, a work-related relationship, or the relationship you have with the person in the mirror – never, ever, ever lower your expectations. Think of your “bar of expectation” as a fence on a baseball field. Keep it where it is, or even move it even further from you. Never make things “too” easy on anyone, including yourself. Character isn’t built when things are too easy. And character is something we’re sorely lacking these days.
Keep your expectations where they are and swing for the fences!