“The Loneliness of Low Expectations” (and the Joy of Sky-High Ones!)

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to be a part of a speaking lineup that included Jim Abbott, the one-handed pitcher for the NY Yankees.

As you can imagine, his talk was inspirational—very few people believed that a boy with one hand could become a professional baseball player (much less pitch a no-hitter).

One of the things he spoke about during his talk that really stuck with me was his experience of “the loneliness of low expectations.”

Why am I thinking about it this week? Well, I was blessed to spend the last few days with my teacher Paramaguru R. Sharath Jois. What I took away from that time was the unadulterated joy I felt experiencing his sky-high expectations of me.

Without getting into too much detail, the practice I was doing with him was far (far, far) beyond my capabilities. The method we practiced, Ashtanga yoga, requires students who cannot do a pose to stop at the pose they cannot do. Suffice to say that, although I can do them, my practice looks a lot like sneakers in a dryer sound…thump, bang…what was that??

Nevertheless—and despite the fact that I had my thumb out like a hitchhiker asking my teacher if I should move to the back of the room – Sharath expected me to finish.

So I did.

Weepy, shaking, sweaty…I finished.

And I have been drunk on joy ever since.

Now, there are people who say that “expectations are resentments waiting to happen” And I get that—if they are not expressed. (FYI: people cannot read your mind. What is obvious to you is not necessarily obvious to others. I don’t care if you think it “should” be…To me, “should” is a dirty word…)

But if you have clearly articulated, high expectations of those around you and they meet them? Well, all I can say is, it’s confidence—(and happiness!) building opportunity like no other— for them, and for you.


For more on the various lessons I have learned from my teacher, take a look at “Do Hard Work. Don’t Talk Nonsense” and “If You’re On Time, You’re Late”