Satisfy Your Expectations, Not Those of Others

Wooden's Wisdom Volume 3, Issue 154
November 15, 2017
download PDF

When Coach was asked what would you say would be one of the most important things your Father taught you? He replied:

Never try to be better than somebody else but never cease trying to be the best you can be. Also, always understand that you'll never know a thing that you don't learn from someone else.

I can remember him saying, that's under your control. The other isn't and if you get too engrossed, involved and concerned in regard to the things over which you have no control, it will have a negative effect on the things over which you have or should have control.

The expectations of others are not always under our control. Our expectations of ourselves are always under our control.

The basic idea: The goal is to satisfy not everyone else's expectations, but your own, raises a good question: If I don't meet my boss's expectations at work, I will lose my job; shouldn't meeting his/her expectations be a goal?

Answer: If your goal is to be a great employee and meeting your boss's expectations is a part of that goal, you certainly should be mindful of achieving those expectations. The approach of satisfying your own expectations, however, would not allow you to be satisfied with just meeting your boss's expectations if achieving them did not include your best effort.

You may believe you are capable of more.

On the other hand, if your best effort did not result in meeting those expectations, you would not be devastated or depressed.

This story from Coach is a good illustration of this idea. In 1928, John Wooden was the captain of the Martinsville High School team (The Artesians) which lost the Indiana state championship to Muncie Central 13-12 on a last second underhanded half court shot by Muncie's Charlie Secrist. In his book "My Personal Best," Coach described the scene in the locker room after the game:

In our locker room afterward, the Artesians, stunned and almost grieving, sat on the benches holding towels over their faces as they wept. Charlie Secrist's last-second shot had been crushing, and all of the players just quietly lowered their heads and cried. All but one. I couldn't cry. The loss hurt me deeply inside, but I also knew I'd done the best I could do. Disappointed? Yes. Devastated or depressed? No. Dad taught us on the farm, "Don't worry about being better than somebody else, but never cease trying to be the best you can be." I had done that.

Yours in Coaching,
Craig Impelman