"Confidence isn't optimism or pessimism, and it's not a character attribute. It's the expectation of a positive outcome." -- Rosabeth Moss Kanter
How often do you hear a really successful person say:
"Gosh, I'm so surprised I made it!
I never really thought I would!"
Never, right? You also rarely hear them say that they "weren't sure" if they could succeed or that they "hoped" they could succeed. Nope.
Successful people are much more likely to say that they were "determined" to succeed or "knew" they could. They expected it.
The definition of "expect" is: to think that something will probably or certainly happen; to think that someone or something will arrive; to consider something to be reasonable, required or necessary.
What you expect out of life has much more bearing on your results than what you want.
People who are successful in any area of life expect that if they pursue what they desire -- whether it's a mate, a certain career or to fit into a smaller pant size -- they'll get it.
They consider success to be completely reasonable, that it will probably or certainly happen for them.
That's one of the reasons that children whose parents are great actors or musicians or surgeons are often successful in that same career.
It's not that these kids get a leg up or special entry to those careers (though they might).
What's more important is that they grew up seeing that possibility for themselves as completely normal, not a distant dream that few attain.
So the important question is:
What do you expect out of life? What seems probable or normal to you?
Let me pose a few questions to start your thinking:
Does it seem normal to have plenty of money each month to pay bills and still have a large surplus to spend, share or stash away as you wish?
Does it seem probable that you will write that novel, land that starring movie role, climb Kilimanjaro, attain enlightenment or whatever your dream is?
Does it seem reasonable that you could have a relationship that is fun, fulfilling, romantic and unconditionally loving?
Does it seem certain that you will achieve your health and fitness goals if you follow certain eating and exercise regimens?
As you answer the questions above, keep in mind that I'm asking what you really think, not what you'd like to think!
If you answered "no" to any of these questions, just be aware that it will be difficult for you to succeed in that area. Not impossible, but your efforts will be less effective.
Let's take the acting example and assume two different people show up to an audition.
Neither of them get the part. The one who thinks being a successful actor is perfectly reasonable and normal might think, "Too bad but not the end of the world. I know there's a part out there with my name on it." Or "Hmmm. I wonder what I could have done better or differently." She might even have the confidence to ask for feedback from the audition.
The other person also doesn't get the part. But her expectation is that breaking into an acting career is "hard and the odds are against it." She'd love to succeed but believes it's more probable that she won't. How does she react to not getting the part? "I can never get a break! It's all about who you know and I don't know the right people." "I'm just not good enough. It's unrealistic to expect success in this town."
These two people will focus their attention and brain power quite differently after this failed audition. The person who expects to have a successful acting career will see new opportunities and maybe adjust her activities. But she will remain calm and present, and okay knowing that she won't win every role.
The other person will likely expend a lot of energy in worry (which is defined as "to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts"), use this audition to "prove" how difficult it is to break into acting, and confirm her sense of uncertainty about her dream.
In my past articles and the NLP (neuro linguistic programming) I teach, I often talk about underlying decisions and beliefs.
These beliefs -- both conscious and unconscious -- determine what you expect and consider normal or probable. We end up seeing what we expect to see and feeling as we expect to feel. We act and react based on what we expect in every situation..
But you can intentionally change your expectation to align with what you want. Your new "normal" will then shape your thinking, perceptions, actions and outcomes.
If you really desire to change or attain your dreams, change your expectation and adopt a new normal.
"High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectation." -- Charles Kettering
To your TOTAL empowerment!
Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students to be totally empowered using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, and Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy. Visit his blog at www.DrMatt.com and join him on Facebook. Get Dr. Matt's Fast Track e-course here.