Sunday, October 07, 2007

It is so unfair to judge someone by our expectations

Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly currently are the victim of our unrealistic ( not closer to reality) expectations. Because India won 20-20 tournament, we expect India to win again even when the format has changed to 50-50. If India cannot win with Big 3 in 50 over format, we want selectors to give the 20-20 stars ( like Robbin Utthapa and Gautam Gambir) a second chance instead of giving second chance to Big 3 who have performed well in the last series. We want to ignore the past record of 20-20 stars in the fifty over format and still believe that they will perform better in the 50 over format when everyone ( including Dhoni) believes that 20-20 over format never tests capability of a cricketer. Even when we know Australians are better in the 50 over format than us, we want to forget that because it clashes with our expectations. Everything is unfairly stacked against the Big 3 because they have not 'fulfilled' our unrealistic expectations. Isn't that surprising?

But if you think for a while, it is not really so surprising. I met a couple last week, where the male partner has still not forgiven the female partner because she has not 'fulfilled' his expectations of a 'mate' after 5 years of married life. I have met managers who evaluate their juniors, not based on their capabilities, but on their expectations. I have met parents who constantly judge their child against their expectations and cause unintended damage to the child's life.

Even at a personal level, this matters. I know of an entrepreneur who has innovated and brought a radically different concept in homeopathic software who feels he has failed because he has not earned 'enough' as compared to his expectation. When I told him that his expectations were unrealistic ( given the nature of his radical product), he replied that this knowledge will not bring any solace to his wife and family who expect him to succeed in lesser time. And I also know of an entrepreneur who lives on an expectation that his idea will succeed one day, even though it may be a black swan event that occurs rarely in the real world.

Expectation surprisingly is a much more powerful driver in career managment than we credit it for. Expectations are triggered by comparisons ( that my colleague is getting more than what I am getting), unrealistic wishes and desires ( I loved painting once upon a time so painting can be my vision) and also to justify our inability to adjust our beliefs ( like I continue to expect something impossible because 'making it possible' is more painful and excruciating).

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