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  • Writer's pictureDerek Chowen

What Did You Expect?

What did you expect? Were you satisfied or disappointed? Was the satisfaction or disappointment based on actual outcome or on your expectations?

How many of you out there are as spectacular at managing your expectations as I am? I am so sorry to hear that...kidding!!!

I am "below average" at managing expectations and need to "apply myself". Reverting back to some lingo imprints from report cards. I think my teachers needed to manage their own expectations...

One of the challenges I face on a daily basis is managing expectations. I hate it. I just want everything to go perfectly with no hiccups and exactly as I have it planned out in my mind. I feel like I'm not asking for much so my plan should be easily executed, right?

That is how I expect everything around me to happen. I also expect people to give me a little leeway when I mess up or don't quite live up to THEIR expectations. I figure that if I am doing my best, I deserve a little grace and everybody else's best should be perfection. Fair is fair!

I am exaggerating a bit of course but not completely. Not on my bad days. Not on my days where my center-of-the-universe-itis flares up. I'm in remission but flare-ups happen.

Time for an example.

Today is Thursday the 9th of February. I was supposed to receive a very cool surprise from my family out in Colorado on Wednesday, February 8th. It was shipped to the proper address, they paid extra to ship it Priority Mail, tracking showed arrival by February 8th. That was yesterday. YESTERDAY!!! I get it. Things are different now. This is the new normal. I managed to be lightly disappointed yesterday but not angry like in the bad old days. Stuff happens. It was a surprise anyway, not something I planned on or needed to do my job. Life didn't change because it didn't show up when we all thought it would. I checked tracking this morning during coffee. My surprise that arrived at the Denver CO Distribution center on February 7th at 5:42PM made it all the way to the Denver CO Distribution center on February 8th at 9:16pm. It took 28 hours to move from John's pile of packages to Sally's pile of packages in the same building. I'm looking forward to May when it finally gets here...

That is current state on the surprise arrival saga. Here comes the good part.

Even though the day started with a mild disappointment, I didn't let it scrap the day. I was expecting the tracking to be accurate, but it wasn't. I also now expect tracking to be a "best guess". Disappointed, not devastated. The day unfolded as just another normal day, until the end.

I switched internet providers and yesterday was cutover day. The install was supposed to happen between 5-7pm. I was vacuuming and dusting the rather embarrassing area where the equipment goes when my phone rang. Who the hell DARES to call instead of text??? It was the internet people. They could come at 3:00 instead of 5:00. Doesn't really give me time to clean as much as would have liked but sure, inconvenience me by exceeding expectations...

The guys that did the install were great. One of the gentleman grew up not far from my hometown and knew a ton of the same places I knew. Fantastic story telling. The other guy happened to be the son of one of the kindest, strongest women I have ever met. I have taken several suicide prevention courses from her to augment my coaching skills and she is an amazing human. Her son is equally terrific.

Instead of letting that delivery misfire ruin my day (it could have in the past), I kept on plugging. Had I not managed and adjusted expectations, I would have missed out on chatting with some great people. I would have stayed in my office while they did their thing and lost that opportunity to make two meaningful connections.

Managing expectations is not a finite endeavor.

It isn't all, "Shit happens, no big deal" any more than, "This always happens to me".

We manage by adjusting. It isn't a set it and forget it operation.

If expectations aren't met, we need to look at the whole picture. Were they not met because we were unreasonable or because of extenuating circumstances? Is it devastating or disappointing?

Life happens. We have to be able to live life on life's terms. Once that concept really hits, we are in pretty darn good shape.

Let's do the next right thing. Stay sturdy.

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