HIGH SELF-EXPECTATIONS BECOME THE CATALYST FOR GREATER PERSONAL ACHIEVEMENTS
Let’s say you’re afraid of spiders. On a cognitive level, you know that they are harmless little creatures. But if you see a spider web in your basement, you’re immediately on the alert for the dangerous intruder. And when you spot one of them, you are overcome by fear. It’s my own private hell ok? I’m projecting…
Because of this mild phobia, the word “spider” catches my attention whenever I see it in print. If we are anxious about something, we are more likely to notice what we perceive as a threat than those who are relaxed. In other words, whatever we focus on, we see. This is a powerful concept with significant implications for both our personal and organizational lives. What we see is deeply influenced by what we expect.
Over the years, many scholars have worked on variations of this concept, such as The Rosenthal Effect, (a psychological finding where a leader’s high expectations of others cause high performance) and the obverse, the Set Up To Fail Syndrome, where low expectations of others cause low performance. While these concepts have to do with expectations we have of others, the Galatea Effect, named after the stone statue of the beautiful woman that the sculptor Pygmalion brought to life, is about expectations individuals have of themselves – it is, in effect, when high self-expectations become the catalyst for greater personal achievements. When that happens, we become our own positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
Research shows that individuals who have high self-efficacy expectations… are healthier, more effective, and generally more successful than those with low self-efficacy expectations.
This is a significant factor in employee performance. A good leader who sets out to help employees to believe in themselves, in their ability to perform well, sets the stage for their possibility to succeed. The confidence that results from employees’ high personal expectations in turn spurs them to higher achievement and productivity – their performance rises to the level of their own expectations. Self-efficacy is our belief in our ability to perform effectively. Research shows that individuals who have high self-efficacy expectations – that is, who believe that they can achieve what they set out to do – are healthier, more effective, and generally more successful than those with low self-efficacy expectations.
High self-efficacy determines many of the choices we make – the higher the self-efficacy, the more likely we are to seek new challenges and persist in the face of adversity or failure. High self-efficacy also influences the effort that we put into achievements. One might say that we are what we think we are.
This old adage is now scientifically proven. From the extensive brain research that is being conducted, we know that our brains are not hard-wired. We know that the brain is plastic, and has the ability to reorganize itself every time we have new experiences. Our neural connections change even after a 20-minute conversation! This gives new meaning to the positive impact that a conversation can have with a coach or mentor when it focuses on high expectations that we have of ourselves.
‘High self-efficacy determines many of the choices we make – the higher the self-efficacy, the more likely we are to seek new challenges and persist in the face of adversity or failure.’
So, what are your thoughts about yourself, about your as-yet untapped potential? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate your self-efficacy? What expectations do you have of yourself? What do you want to attract in your professional and personal life? What do you want to be known for in your leadership?
Here are some questions to consider:
- What does it mean to lead a good life?
- To be happy, what should I be doing that I am not doing now? And what am I doing now that I should stop doing?
- How can I create the opportunity to be happy for the people who work for me?
- How should I begin to develop self-discipline, so that I can focus on what will make me happy in the long term?
- What is personal excellence, and how do I achieve it?
- How can I be a success in my specialized career, and, at the same time, a well-rounded person with a wide range of interests and knowledge?
- To what extent does my personal happiness entail a relationship with the community of others?
To live one’s life to its full potential, in accordance with the Aristotelian precepts, requires emotional and intellectual self-rigour. It also requires the ability to have high expectations of oneself, expectations that one would succeed at what might appear to be a lofty vision.
‘No limit is possible to what we can achieve. All we need to do is figure out what we want our life to look and feel like, and then studiously and methodically set out to find it and live it.’
If the possibility of generating creative and fulfilling experiences that fill our hearts and minds does not seem real and feasible, then we need to question the underlying assumptions that get us to see what we see and then dispute these – acting as our own defence lawyer.
What are the higher steps you need to climb to unlock your full potential? What are the “buts” that you need to eliminate from your vocabulary in order to break through to new levels of personal achievement? What mindsets might you need to change to stay ahead of the curve?
The answer: there is no stop valve, no preset limit to our capacities. No limit is possible to what we can achieve. All we need to do is figure out what we want our life to look and feel like, and then studiously and methodically set out to find it and live it.