What Do You Expect?

“Then he touched their eyes and said, ‘According to your faith will it be done to you’; and their sight was restored” (Matthew 9:29–30 NIV).

A friend of mine, Bruce, taught college in Oregon for awhile. When he began his first semester teaching there, he was told that the college placed students in English classes by their level of ability. Bruce was assigned to teach two “average ability” classes and one “advanced ability.” He really enjoyed teaching the advanced class: they seemed more alert, more fun, asked better questions, and, as expected, had a higher grade average than the other classes.

On the final day of the semester, Bruce commented on these differences to the other professors in the faculty lounge. He said he hoped to get more of the advanced classes next semester.  But to his surprise, his department director said, “Bruce, I don’t know where you got your information but we phased out the average/advanced distinction a year ago. You’ve been teaching mixed classes all semester like the rest of us!”

Bruce couldn’t believe it! He checked his records, and sure enough, there were far more A’s and B’s in the class that he thought was full of smart kids. And he really had enjoyed teaching that class more. But the only real difference between the classes had been Bruce’s expectations of them.

You can set people up for success or failure by your expectations.

People tend to become what they think we expect them to be. If you communicate to the people around you that you expect them to be lazy, uncreative, and negative, that’s probably how they will respond to you. On the other hand, if you treat people like winners, they’re likely to become winners. Psychologists call it “The Pygmalion Effect.”

• The best salesmen expect customers to buy their product.
• The best executives expect employees to have creative ideas.
• The best speakers expect audiences to be interested.
• The best leaders expect people to want to follow.
• The best teachers expect students to learn.

Would you like to bring out the best in those around you? Here's the key: Treat them the way they could be! Don’t just “tell it like it is.” Tell it like it could be.

Jesus said, “According to your faith it will be done to you” (Matthew 9:29 NIV). What are you expecting this week from yourself  . . . from others . . . from God?

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