NPR had a great interview with Wes Moore a few weeks ago on his new book. There was an especially poignant idea in the interview though: that expectations are what bounds us.
Do you think we’re products of our environment?
No, we’re products of our expectation.
I’m personally guilty of having expectation-ism, constantly deeming people not useful because they won’t be going very far in some fashion. A math person asking me about something he or she should know? I’ll answer the question, but in my mind I have already lowered my expectations of that person.
“Oh, (s)he’ll never be working for a company or in a position to help me advance my career too much.”
“Oh, (s)he’s really struggling. Might drop out of the major soon.”
These are thoughts that I shouldn’t have. Expectations of someone will change my behavior towards that person, which can create a positive feedback loop. I should be more encouraging in these cases, and remember what great people I had in my life which always expected more of me.
Never lower expectations for anyone, especially oneself.