Mike’s English word of the week – Expectation

I’m back with my English word of the week … this week the word is … Expectation.

I am sure you have heard the term ‘sitting duck’.

It always makes me imagine a calm, elegant, black, brown and green duck…resting by the water’s edge…and behind him a shadow looms closer…and inch by inch a hunters shot gun moves in.

Now at the this point the duck in my mind could either begin his journey to meet monosodium glutamate in a restaurant such as Hong Kong City…or…he could turn around as fast as lightening, wielding a hand gun from his feathers and turn the tables on the hunter.

Yes! That is the ending I want. So I am going with it for the purpose of demonstrating the word of the week – expectation. And yes, I do watch far too many cartoons.

Expectation is when we not only want a certain outcome, but we feel assured in an over confident way that the outcome we want is there for taking. And more significantly, we feel we deserve that particular outcome, regardless of whether we actually deserve it or not.

The hunter held the expectation that the duck will sit still, vulnerable and helpless, simply falling to his gun. But in my fantasy story of a gun-firing-duck, this expectation was completely wrong and not met.

Back in the real world where ducks cannot use hand guns, we set, break, meet, and change expectations all the time. Every single time we do anything, we pretty much do so on an expectation basis. Every single person in this world has expectations of their own and is part of someone else’s expectation thoughts.

Even dealing with man-made objects, such as the almighty electric kettle, we expect it to boil and turn off afterwards. If on a rare occasion it pops the fuse, or it gives up once and for all, it breaks the expectation.

It is disappointing when our expectations are not met. And we feel heart broken when we cannot meet expectations, when in fact all we want to do is meet them. Being on either side of the expectation game can be rewarding and yet equally frustrating, with all outcomes open to draining or enhancing something in your life. Energy, time, finances, knowledge, self esteem…the list is endless.

Perhaps the most valuable trick I learnt many years ago was how to assess my own expectations and my ability to meet expectations. Whether I am struggling to meet expectations or missing out on having them met, I ask myself the same question, each and every time, and then answer it with brutal honesty.

‘Is it due to conduct or capability?’

What exactly are conduct and capability all about I hear you ask? Well, conduct is when you know exactly what you are doing, it is a deliberate, purpose form of behavior. Capability, however, is when you are willing…but you simply need to learn how.

See the difference? So next time you deal with an expectation situation of any kind, ask yourself if it is conduct or capability. And be prepared to answer with extreme honesty. You might find it helps move things forward with something that is dear to you. This question has helped me understand the world and all that is in it much more than I did before. I am always trying to enhance my conduct and push my capability. Ironically by setting my own expectations higher and higher.

Lucky I ask this question all the time, as my autopilot, because I can sleep well at night knowing my fantasy-gun-firing-duck doesn’t exist simply because ducks are not capable of holding a gun. It is nothing personal against me.

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