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The Power of UP Series – Individual Upward Movement
Chapter 1 – Part 1 of 2

“We will always tend to fulfill our own expectation of ourselves” – Brian Tracy

As we know, UP is a direction. More importantly, it is a direction that we want to go. The first step in moving UP is to set our sights beyond our current circumstances. Inherent in the definition of UP is that it never stops. There is always one more rung on the ladder, one more battle to fight, one more person to help, and one more analogy to make. So, wherever we are today, we have room to improve.

What’s holding us back? One of the main things keeping us from achieving more is that our expectations are set too low. When an expectation is set, our minds are so powerful and complex that our actions immediately begin to line up with that expectation. Robert K. Merton coined the phrase “self-fulfilling prophecy” to describe this phenomenon in his 1957 book Social Theory and Social Structure. Wikipedia defines a self-fulfilling prophecy as “a prediction that, in being made, actually causes itself to become true”.

In George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, Eliza Doolittle is transformed from a Cockney flower girl to a lady. What made the difference? The image that she had of herself changed when others treated her differently. Colonel Pickering called her “Miss Doolittle,” which Liza says began to teach her self-respect. She explained to Colonel Pickering, “The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she’s treated. I shall always be a flower girl to Professor Higgins, because he always treated me as a flower girl, and always will, but I know I can be a lady to you because you always treat me as a lady, and always will.”

Most of us have observed the power of expectations with a familiar example. A co-worker mentions to us late in the day that they think that they’re coming down with a cold. We may respond with something like, “I’ve heard there’s something going around”. We could even say, “You look all right to me”. It really doesn’t matter what we say at that point as the person really expects to get sick. Sure enough, the next day, they call into work sounding just awful announcing that there is no possible way they could work today.

By now, it's clear to me that we get what we expect. In the next part, we’ll look into who sets our expectations and how we can change them.

"You have to expect things of yourself before you can do them." – Michael Jordan
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