Many know this familiar title from Charles Dickens great work of literature. Great Expectations is a tale about a young man who realizes that having high expectations can be a double-edged sword. While the peak of this story has been explained in one simple sentence, I find that I certainly can relate.
I always say, “Don’t expect, you’ll only be disappointed.” It is a strong statement that has been by my side for a few years. It’s even a screensaver on my CPU and plays a major part in my life. In business and dealing with the opposite sex, I usually stick to this rule. Some say that I am bitter. Others say that I use this motto to protect my feelings. I say that it is the truth and I am standing by it.
Currently, I am reading Trump: The Art Of The Deal, by Donald J. Trump and Tony Schwartz. It’s a wonderful read. A real page-turner. (Thanks Donald!) In chapter 2, Mr. Trump makes an intriguing comment regarding expectations. He says, “It’s been said that I believe in the power of positive thinking. In fact, I believe in the power of negative thinking. I happen to be very conservative in business. I always go into the deal anticipating the worst. If you plan for the worst-if you can live with the worst-the good will always take care of itself.”
On several levels, business and personal, I agree with “The Donald”. For example, I promoted a party last month at a sexy venue in New York City. Although, I knew that every invited guest would not attend, I did expect the outcome of the party to be amazing. It turned out to be a mediocre party with few guest. I felt like a failure and worst of all…I felt humiliated. In the end, it actually motivated me to try it again. However, if I had envisioned the most horrible conditions going into the project, then I would not have been so shocked.
This is another reason that I try not to hold high expectations or any expectations for that matter. With expectations, disappointment may be treading close behind. I do not enjoy the feeling of disappointment. It’s dreadful. It’s misleading. Most of all, it hurts. It’s a type of emotional hurt that I would not wish on my most evil enemy. After this dreadful emotion passes, analyzation has set in and your brain starts to turn. You begin to re-evaluate the circumstances. Unanswered questions start to form. What could have went wrong? What did I do? What did I not do? Why did this happen? Unfortunately, we fail to think that (sometimes) it is the opposing party who caused this feeling. We continue to blame ourselves for their actions. We were just trying to be optimistic! Yet, in the sweet words of Trump, if we can expect and live with the worst then there will not be any surprises such as disappointment. The good will always come in the end.
Let me give you another example. This past weekend, a very close friend to me had a marvelous date with a wonderful guy set for Saturday night. He was someone who had charm, charisma, and that sparkle in his eye that just made my friend melt. In the middle of a steaming conversation, he politely asked her out on Wednesday via email. So, they set a tentative date for Saturday evening. Any normal woman would expect for this man to follow up with details. Just minimal details like Where? and What time?. My friend did not hear from him Saturday or even Sunday for that matter. As a result, my friend was very disappointed. She began to think that “she” was the problem. When she called, I gave her a pep talk that included my famous quote (stated in the beginning).
As I sat on the other end of phone, listening to the hurt and cracking in her soft voice, I began to reflect. I remember this woman vividly. I can recall seeing her everyday. I used to be this woman. I could feel her sorrow, pain and disappointment exploding.
It was a magical illusion. It was my fool’s paradise. It was true. It was real. It was me. It was disappointment…and I never saw “it” coming.
(Readers, please leave your feedback and comments. I welcome them.)