Author John Lund once said, “Remember, all frustration is based on unmet expectations. If we did not expect anything, we would not be frustrated.”
I’ve even heard some go so far as to say, “The root of all unhappiness is unmet expectations.”
I get it though, not having ANY expectations feels a little aimless, but I do think one thing that can change our day-to-day AS WELL as our long-term results is adjusting our expectations to align with the actions that we’re taking.
That may sound a little “woo-woo,” but in today’s blog post, I want to talk about the ONE question I think every working professional needs to ask themselves regularly and how that can change their trajectory over time.
And by “every working professional,” I mean YOU: business owners, entrepreneurs, managers, executives, employees.
I hate saying “this is for everyone,” but this one gets pretty dang close. So let’s dive in.
A Story of Unmet Expectations
Just the other day, I was chatting about LinkedIn strategy with a commercial real estate agent. I was certain that LinkedIn could do big things for him, but things didn’t seem to be clicking into place because I noticed he kept saying, “In 90 days.”
“We want to make X amount of sales in 90 days.”
I thought that was an interesting idea that he was holding onto, so I dug in a little deeper.
I asked, “How long is your typical sales cycle?”
He answered, “Anywhere from 1-5 years.”
THAT was the answer that helped me guide our conversation.
It’s not that making a sale in 90 days on LinkedIn is impossible, but…
… making EXTREMELY high ticket, high risk sales in 90 days to a completely cold audience when it takes your warm audience 1-5 years to buy in…
THAT expectation was setting him up for disappointment.
So, with that newly uncovered expectation out in the open, I was able to reorient him to what was REALLY possible with LinkedIn in 90 days for a business like his.
Creating strong connections, establishing himself as a thought leader, and getting on the radar of people who were already in the mindset of growing and expanding in their businesses and lives.
And while that may not lead to a signed deal in 90 days, it CAN grow his pipeline of qualified leads that funnel into that 1-5 year sales cycle which has the potential to shorten and create tons of growth with a larger audience.
That was an attractive opportunity to him, too. But in order for him to really be happy with those results, we had to make sure he was expecting the correct and doable outcome from the platform.
How Unmet Expectations Hurt You in the Workplace
When was the last time unmet expectations hurt you?
Maybe it was a conversation with your significant other?
Maybe it was on your own health and wellness journey?
How often in your business or workplace have you set an arbitrary time frame on a goal like, “We want to make X amount of sales in 90 days”?
Let me ask you this: Did you set that goal using any sort of context or data, or did you set it because you saw someone else doing it?
With amazing frameworks like the 12-Week Year and Todd Herman’s 90 Day Year, it can be easy to slap tight parameters on a lofty goal and think that all you have to do is BELIEVE it to be possible in order to hustle and reach make it happen.
And while I agree that grit and belief play a big role in our journeys to success, I also know that we have to analyze the current state of things in order to set goals that are realistic enough to just be slightly out of reach.
The One Question that can Make Your Clients, Your Boss, Your Direct-Reports, and YOU Happier
I won’t make you wait for it. The ONE question you can ask as a leader, manager, service provider, coach, or anyone leading people through growth is:
What does success look like for you here?
I know it’s not an earth-shattering, brand-new kind of question. But, I’ve found that some people skip it because it’s almost TOO simple, and remembering to outline the expectations of all parties involved can really lead to more happiness and getting CLOSER to your really well-set goals.
You can ask your clients: What does success look like for you in the time we work together?
You can ask your boss: What does success on this project really look like for you?
You can ask your direct-reports: What does success look like for you this quarter?
Putting expectations out on the table means we can either work together to meet them, or we can rework them to be something more doable and realistic so that we’re all happier and feel more accomplished with our end results.
Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. Sometimes doing the SIMPLE things consistently is what has the biggest impact on our success.
So, I would love to hear. Have you used this question in your own day-to-day? If so, what have you noticed?