Expectations are an extremely powerful force in determining, or even forecasting, how successful you can be. Whether it’s a one-time event in your life or long-term career goals, expectations play a very commanding role. The expectations that are placed on you have a direct influence on your performance and thus, on your outcome. This phenomenon that suggests when expectations are placed on others they will act in ways that make the behavior likely to occur, is known as the Pygmalion Effect.

Think back to your family traditions, traditions that were instilled in you by imitation on setting goals. The belief you have of yourself, of the type of person you are, plays a particular role that inevitably generates self-expectations. These expectations can make you believe you’re a winner or that you’re a loser because they have the power to motivate you to achieve more or make you unhappy.

If you believe yourself to be a loser due to failed expectations, these beliefs often stem from how you respond to your mistakes or failures. If, when you make a mistake or experience a setback you keep repeating the scenario over in your mind, blaming yourself for it, dwelling on it, telling your friends and colleagues… you end up creating even more negative mental images.

On the other hand, self-awareness of positive expectations can replace those negative mental images and reward your nervous system with an energized feeling. According to Edward E. Jones, a psychologist at Princeton University, “our expectancies not only affect how we see reality but also affect the reality itself.”

People who have expectations placed upon them by authority figures often show significantly greater gain in performance and achievement. The Pygmalion effect is by no means any sort of magical inspiration, but rather a way for leaders to act differently in regards to the learner. For example, a weightlifter will naturally try to outdo his or her rival if they have positive expectations placed on them from their trainer. Unique self-perceptions provided by a leader can intuitively empower you and prompt you to focus on achieving your goals.

The elevated expectations of the Pygmalion effect are so powerful that it is often applied to settings from corporate workplaces to sports teams and even to the military. Research shows that the expectations of those around you can subconsciously modify your behavior – for better or for worse – while your own expectations can fill you with positive drive and energy, or despondency and despair. Having expectations placed on you narrows your choices, while providing an energizing drive to achieve your goals.

While it can prove difficult to intentionally change the expectations of those around us, we can consciously change our own behavior by adopting new behaviors and acting like everyone around us has exceedingly great potential.
Article Author: Smiljan Mori is the founder of MindOver™ Network, Brilliant solutions for Performance, Motivation and Happiness. He has literally created a successful business and coaching empire from scratch and is a best-selling author and motivational speaker who brings unparalleled professional experience and the latest scientific research from neuroscience and positive psychology to audiences around the globe. He has shown more than 150,000 people from 50 countries how to change their lives for the better.

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Article References:
Motivaction For Life by Smiljan Mori
http://www.duq.edu/about/centers-and-institutes/center-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-and-learning/pygmalion
http://www.pon.harvard.edu/daily/negotiation-skills-daily/expectations-and-self-fulfilling-prophecies/
http://www.nytimes.com/1987/02/03/science/research-affirms-power-of-positive-thinking.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/200904/pygmalion-leadership-the-power-positive-expectations

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