I was inspired to write this because I heard from the parent of a child with a disability on social media talking about Expectations. Seven years ago my wife and I came up with the bright idea to create a company designed to Raise Expectations. We have always preached that you don’t know what you don’t know. If you assume what someone is, or is not, capable of then you will never find out what they can do. It has been shown in many studies that perceptions effect people in ways that we are sometimes not conscious of. I have written previous blogs about “lowering the bar” based on preconceived notions. That said, the mission we set for ourselves was to broadcast to the world that everyone has value and that we cannot set limits.
There is no question we do have limits and that all of us will find things that we are good at and things that we are not good at. However, there is dignity in failure. If you do not fail you will never know what you are capable of. If I love and believe in you I will let you have a chance. Part of the job of being a parent is allowing your child to succeed or fail, but being there for them when they do fail is crucial.
I am not so naive as to think that every person should be able to do everything. There are people out there who are resentful for not being able to achieve what they think they should, or sadly not even wanting to try because they don’t believe they can.
Our basic tenet on RaiseExpectations is to believe and to lead by example. Devon likes to call herself the Ambassador of Possibilities. Dreams seem more tangible, when there is someone you can relate to that has achieved the things you dream of.
Part of the dignity of failure, is dealing with failure. It is one thing to be there for your kids, but what about when you grow up? What happens when day after day people disappoint you?
A hard working mom messaged me about disappointment. She wants to believe that we should have higher expectations. Disappointment becomes the norm and coping with the day is just survival. Stories about other people succeeding are just fairytales that don’t apply to them.
There are essential elements about life we all need; air, water, food. One of the essential elements that may not be as tangible, but is equally important is hope. I don’t mean hope like some poorly written romance novel, but a belief that you have a future, a purpose.
Without hope there is no possibility of what might happen and thus no reason to try. Every major religion is based on hope. A belief that there is a greater power in your life to help give people purpose, something to look forward to. There are many stories about religion and giving the disenfranchised meaning so that they have a purpose. We need hope to have a reason to move forward, to get out of bed. Believing in something greater then yourself means there is a reason for you to do good. It means there is a reason to persist regardless of your circumstance. Society as a whole depends on hope, it may take on a different meaning based on who you are or where you live, but hope is what keeps looking towards tomorrow.
For many of us some days feel like we are stuck in a time loop with each day being exactly the same as the one prior. What is the point in changing anything if you are going to continue to rely the same day no matter what happens. Its not always a time loop filled with misery and disappointment, but feeling stuck in this time loop is its own kind of prison. I can honestly say that many mornings I wake up and the first thought in my head is “what am I doing this for?” The alarm clock goes off at the same time and I do the same things and nothing feels different.
This is why hope is so important. Even though it may be a single ember in the drama that is your life it can be stoked to remind you that you have purpose. Even if the only think you can do is smile at someone because you don’t have the energy to talk, or write, science has shown that one smile can make a difference. Giving someone a smile can physiologically make them more open to listening to new ideas. On your worst day you can make someone look at the world differently, even if only for a moment.
There will always be days filled with disappointment, resentment, and even anger. We have to use the tools we have, where we are, right now, the best we can. Surround yourself with people who build you up, be the person for someone else who needs it. At the end of the day you have this one life and you can look forward to each new city on your journey or count the mile markers whilst ignoring the scenery.
I am not writing this to try to convince my readers that fairly tales are true and we should all believe in these magic feelings that makes everything better. I am writing this in the hope that the people who read this will remember it when I am having one of my dark days; so that you will be the persons who reminds me to keep moving that what we do and say matters.
Just remember give grace you don’t have to do everything, in the end we are all in this together.