When we expect a certain level of quality from ourselves, we tend to work harder to meet those expectations. If we don’t believe we’re capable of achieving greatness, we probably won’t. In other words, we perform to the standards expect from ourselves. We must turn expectations into probable results.
My favorite musical has always been My Fair Lady because of the Pygmalion effect, which infers that having positive expectations leads to enhanced performance, which results in a higher probability of success. The implication is that confidence and energy will increase if we believe in ourselves. On the other hand, a negative self-perception results in a significantly lower chance of succeeding. What we think we’re capable of, therefore, basically becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. We can turn expectations into probable results.
It’s important to attribute this effect to human behavior rather than science. For example, in a coin flip, the odds of getting “heads or tails” will not change even if you’re full of hope and positive thinking. Similarly, expectations and attitude can help when it comes to things like sports. So, a team might play better if they believe in themselves (the movie Major League is a great and hilarious example of this). BUT, talent, practice, and consistency also play important roles in success—so positivity can’t guarantee that a lousy team will win a championship.
Additionally, if you enjoy what you’re doing, you also have a higher probability of success.
So, when we discuss “projections,” it’s important that expectations and probability (how likely it is that something will happen) are both taken into consideration. For example, when flipping a coin, the probability of getting “heads” is 50 percent. However, the probability of winning the lottery is 1 out of millions. This illustrates how probability is greatly affected by percentage, BUT it is also affected by volatility and variance. For instance, the pandemic is creating highly uncertain and volatile circumstances, which makes it nearly impossible to accurately forecast anything.
Despite this, it is my opinion that dubious circumstances can create opportunities if we remain patient and seek alternative solutions. For example, many restaurants are experiencing immense difficulties, but pizza parlors seem to be thriving. Perhaps the takeaway here is that restaurants should look into cooking and preparing family-style meals to deliver. Another option would be to partner with delivery services like Uber Eats or Postmates, if they haven’t already. At some unknown point, we will go back to attending sporting events, concerts, eating out, and traveling, but until then, we must shift our focus to addressing the needs of the time. That might mean expanding your work-from-home options or pivoting to a different target audience—in other words: it will take work, but that’s business.
Now, in order to effectively utilize expectations and probability, it’s imperative to develop, test, measure and adapt different approaches. Many plans, forecasts, and proposals are done in a static format with one dimensional analysis and results. Those are usually all wrong because we live in a more dynamic and interactive world. For example, branding, marketing, pricing, and operations must all be assessed together rather than viewed separately as isolated activities. Similarly, businesses need to have alternatives plans in place and ready to go so they can adapt quickly. Mistakes will occur. So what? Steve Jobs was fired, Thomas Edison tested thousands of light bulbs before succeeding, and Walt Disney’s editor told him that he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.”
So how do you use expectations to create positive outcome?
When it comes to the rapid changes that occur constantly in our society and environment, we are frequently afraid of risk. The Internet, digital technology, mobile phones, Google, and Amazon are all examples of technology that is transforming our lives. Therefore, relying on old methods or a “we’ve always done it that way” mentality may actually be riskier than making a change.
Similarly, business analysis, big data, the cloud, and other management tools are great resources to mitigate risk. I’ve done a lot of work testing different pricing strategies to improve performance, especially on the Internet. You can’t just stick with what used to work and, therefore, your expectations must include the assumption that you will need to adapt frequently.
Furthermore, your probability of success increases when your expectations include actionable goals:
- If you expect big results, consider taking bigger risks.
- If you expect accuracy, focus on obtaining better data and improving your testing, analysis, and measurement tools.
- If you expect to keep up with competitors, include innovation and hire exceptional people (this might involve tolerating some “deviant” behavior from employees, but that’s often a side effect of utilizing out-of-the-box thinkers).
- If you expect long-term success, create an open company culture that embraces diversity, change, collaboration, communication, and pushes boundaries.
- If you expect greatness from your staff, empower them to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. This requires hiring and training good people, trusting them and giving them the authority, they need to perform effectively, and understanding that they will sometimes make mistakes.
- If you expect to address and solve problems, develop reliable resources outside of your company. Don’t utilize friends and family who won’t tell you the truth in order to spare your feelings or who may not even understand your business’ needs. Visit places like Google, your library, and incubators for networking opportunities.
- If you expect to increase profit, focus more attention on the process of decision-making. How good is the information you’re using, what are the consequences of possible mistakes, and how much risk can you afford? With the exception of issues like safety, I think we can all afford more risk. We’re generally overly concerned with the consequences of mistakes and we lose sight of the potential gains.
- If you want to succeed, believe in yourself. Because if you don’t, why should anyone else? You need to turn expectations into probable results.
I have learned that traditional and detailed startup recommendations (like planning and budgeting) are not as important as we previously thought. Instead, a continuous process of analyzing, measuring, and adapting to ever-changing parameters, programs, markets, and risks has a much higher probability of success. Finally, expect greatness from yourself. Learn to turn expectations into probable results. Success requires positive thinking and high expectations. If you truly believe in something, you’ll work tirelessly to make sure it’s successful. So, why can’t that something be you?