A combination of events over the last couple of months has had me thinking more about the expectations we have for ourselves, our kids, our employees and holy moly, even our politicians.
First, Jim Rohn passed away.
Jim talked a lot about expectations and how delivery of them is on one person: you. I highly recommend Rohn’s stuff. While you can buy his books, videos, audio etc online, quite a lot can be found at no cost on his site and on YouTube.
Next, four of my Scouts attained the rank of Eagle on the same day, after progressing together in Scouting since the second grade.
Three of them had been Life Scouts (the last rank prior to Eagle) for over three years. They needed a little prodding to finish the last item or two on their checklist, but they all assumed they’d get it done. If nothing else, they figured their parents would pressure them to get it done. Note: They were right.
A tall, steep mountain
But a year ago, one of them just didn’t think he could get there. Not because he isn’t confident (he is), but because the mountain in front of him was so very tall.
A year ago, he was a Star Scout (and had been for some time). That means that he needed several merit badges in addition to finishing the requirements for the Life Scout rank, then he needed to spend six months actively providing senior leadership to the troop, and finally had to come up with and complete an Eagle Scout service project.
All of that had to happen in about a year, and with a dose of reality, it had to happen in an environment that includes a job, his senior year of high school, cars, girls, school, skiing, hunting, a summer of fun (including traveling for a team sport) and everything else teenagers do these days.
The size of the mountain doesn’t matter much
One thing that I’ve found with folks young and not so young is that the size of the mountain in front of them rarely has anything to do with their ability to climb it.
What’s far more important is whether or not they THINK they can climb it.
Yeah, I know I’m teetering into the land of the touchy-feely. However, what folks think they can make happen clearly has a huge impact on what they accomplish.
For that one young man, it was easy to seem like Eagle wasn’t reachable because it was so far away.
All he needed was to see that *I* completely believed he could do it if he applied himself. I didn’t do the work, I didn’t give him any shortcuts, and I sure don’t deserve the credit, but that little tiny bump in the road could have kept him from getting there.
Once he believed he could get over it, he simply had to chip away at it till he was done.
You can’t do that
I wonder how many of those little bumps and “You can’t do that” comments employees, business owners and entrepreneurs run into and what accomplishments they prevent.
Some people would see a comment like that as a challenge. They’ll swing for the fences and complete the task with a flourish (think “Ricky Henderson”) as a way to say “Oh yeah? Take THAT. I *could* do it.”
Most business owners and entrepreneurs probably steamroll past that stuff or they wouldn’t be in those positions.
But not everyone is built that way. It might take a success or two to show some that they really can kick butt and take names.
I spend a lot of time with kids due to Scouts, swim team and other things I’m involved in. I sometimes see kids who are told they *are* great (whether they are or not). I see others who are encouraged to *be* great (or even better) and accomplish great things.
More kids need to be encouraged to BE great, whether they want to be a rocket scientist, a millwright or a statesman (“statesperson” sounds a little weird for me). We could use a few (hundred) *great* statesmen of both genders, in fact.
Just telling them they are great isn’t enough. They need mentors, like anyone else.