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I’m a firm believer in being honest about our weaknesses, failures and mess ups. Unfortunately we’ve been taught as a society how to fake the funk whether than admit when we’re weak or not at our best. I’ve came to a conclusion that there is an area of my life in which I am not consistently practicing what I preach and that is the area of expectation. I preach hard and constantly to the children I serve that they should have high expectations in everything they do. Yet as I evaluate the last few assignments of my classes, I realize that in several of the assignments, I had an expectation that I was going to receive a low grade. Why did I feel that way? Was it insecurity? Maybe. Was it lack of confidence? That ties with insecurity so that’s possible. When I received the grade, I was amazed that I actually did better than I expected. After this last go round with it, I became frustrated that instead of having humble expectation of progress, I was expecting a bad grade.
These thoughts have me pondering why so many of us like myself have low expectations of ourselves from time to time. I want to raise 3 possibilities and then offer some solutions for us to think about.
3 reasons why we have low expectations of ourselves:
1. We haven’t been consistently pushed in our lives to do great things. Everybody was raised in different cultures. Some people were raised in cultures where there were nothing but high expectations and if you didn’t meet them you would be disappointed. Others of us were raised in cultures where it was about effort and giving your best. As a result of being raised in an effort culture, some of us are just satisfied being in the race. This is in no way meant to condemn the families or cultures we grew up in. This is to demonstrate how sometimes the effort culture can be detrimental to us as we grow up. Another aspect of this is that some people grew up in cultures where there was no one there to push them to do bigger and better things. One of the consequences of not being pushed consistently to do great things is perceiving those who are trying to push you as being mean and pushy. I’ve learned in my life that the people who are pushing me to be great care about me and want me to be best I can be. Yes their techniques have to be harsh at times, but we will see over time that those techniques were beneficial for us. We see this very often in the sports world. Some of the best teams ever were pushed to greatness at every step not being satisfied with just getting in.
2. We have a low view of ourselves. Let me be clear that I’m not advocating for us to have a view of ourselves that is arrogant as if we’re all that and a bag of chips. At the same time, too many of us do not view ourselves the way the Creator sees us. As a result of not aligning ourselves with God’s view, we accept any and everything in our lives instead of the best. Some of us will focus more on what’s wrong with us (our weaknesses) than we will our strengths. Too many of us focus on our deficiencies instead of the things that make us strong. When you talk down about yourself too frequently, those words become a part of your memory that you’re not erasing. How we view ourselves can be a determining factor in the level of expectation we have for our lives.
3. We live in a constant state of mediocrity. Mediocrity is the habit of doing things at a quality that is less than excellent. One of the byproducts of having low expectations is feeling comfortable not presenting the best work and product that we’re capable of. While we are not perfect, we must have a spirit of excellence in everything we do (more on that later). What is related to mediocrity is average. Average living (doing things at a C level) comes from low expectations. When you do not expect the best, you most likely will not give the best. However, if you have high expectations, you have a better chance of giving your best.
So how do we raise our expectations to line up with our A+ potential?
1. Surround yourself with people who are willing to push you in a loving way to greatness. The people that you want in your life are those who see the A+ potential in you and are willing to squeeze it out of you. Hanging around people who are fine with you having low expectations of yourself has to be a no-no at this point in your life. If you’re a brother, surround yourself with men who do not mind seeing you progress as much as possible. Have conversations with them and keep them updated on what’s going on allowing them to hold you accountable. The same thing goes for my sisters. The people who push you lovingly are not jealous of you and may actually be a little more successful than you at this point. Let them have access to your life. We cannot make it in life without the proper relationships girding us up especially when things get hard. Having low expectations will definitely hurt you when you’re already struggling. In those moments, you need your friends to remind you of what you have in you as they refuse to let you do anything less than great.
2. View yourself based on God’s approval of you. This is a constant battle for most of us, but too many of us put our value and worth in the hands of other human beings. Too many of us allow society to determine how valuable we are. We must get to a point where we see ourselves as children of the most high God. How we see ourselves changes every aspect of how we live. When we know that God is the greatest power, we realize that we do not have to accept defeat because of the one we serve. As I’ve said many times over the years, our lives would be so much easier if we spent more time focused on God’s approval of us than society. To be valuable in society we must have certain clothes, a certain amount of money and a certain amount of popularity. God doesn’t see us based on what we have or don’t have. God sees us as valuable just because He created us. That is enough for me to live and do what God wants me to do to the best of my ability. Speaking of doing things to the best of my ability…..
3. Live a life of excellence. As discussed earlier, living a life of excellence isn’t about trying to be perfect. At the end of the day, everyone falls short in some regard. The goal of our lives should be to make sure that by the end of a task, we’ve given our best to it. If I’m living within my A+ potential, every part of my life should have excellence written all over it. The God that we serve is excellent; therefore I am obligated to operate in excellence. When you live a life of excellence, you are saying that you refuse to be average. Too many people have paid the ultimate price over the years for us to be average and mediocre. Give your best to every task and leave the results to God. Even if it doesn’t turn out well, it is a good feeling to know that no matter how things go, you gave your best. Excellence is the model of someone who knows they have A+ potential.
Today I encourage all of us (especially me) to be determined from this day forth to live a life reflecting of the A+ potential we have. No matter how things turn out, raise your expectation and do what you’re capable of doing. God has placed so much inside of you. Bring it out and have the expectation that it will produce something glorious! I am determined from this day forth to have A+ expectation that matches my A+ potential!