Practicing Positive Expectations

You tend to get what you expect. So practice positive expectations.

If you’ve been reading my “Tuesday Tips” the last few weeks, you know that I’ve been instructing you on how you can become more positive. It’s a power that you can develop, and you don’t want to be without it. So let me give you two more strategies this week. The first one has to do with your RESPONSES, and the second one deals with your EXPECTATIONS.

How do you respond to new ideas? Do you dismiss the idea? Do you see it as foolishness? Or do you allow yourself to examine the idea, to try it on for size, and think “it just might work?”

Some experts say you’ll have about 10,000 thoughts go through your mind each day. And some of those thoughts and ideas are blockbusters!

Unfortunately, the negative person responds to those new ideas by saying, “That’ll never work. I’ll just stay with the way I’ve always done it.” The positive person is open to the new, the exciting, and the innovative. The positive person says, “It just might work.” How you respond to new ideas could be the difference between your winning or losing.

And when you think about it, the positive folks have almost always been more right than the negative ones. In fact — really, everything we have — the cars in the parking lot, the chairs we sit on, the office machinery we use, everything, was created by someone, somewhere, who said, “Now that’s an idea that just might work.” Nothing was ever invented or created by somebody who said the reverse, “That’ll never work.”

Thomas Edison exemplified the “just might work” attitude. As you may remember, he conducted over 10,000 experiments before he finally created the electric light bulb.

During that long, grueling ordeal, a young newspaper reporter interviewed Edison. He asked, “Mr. Edison, how does it feel to have failed 10,000 times?”

Edison replied, “You’re very young aren’t you? I have not failed 10,000 times. I have successfully found 10,000 ways not to do it.”

Wow! What an attitude. It’s no wonder that Edison was one of the most prolific inventors the world has ever seen. He just kept thinking “it just might work.”

In a sense, Edison had learned to respond positively to every new idea. Of course, he didn’t stick with every idea, but he gave it some consideration. That’s the first tip I would give you today. Look at your RESPONSES to new ideas.

The second tip I would give you deals with your EXPECTATIONS. In psychology we talk about the “self-fulfilling prophecy.” In other words, if you expect good things to happen, more often than not, they will. And if you expect bad things to happen, they often do.

Positive people use this insight to their advantage. They PRACTICE POSITIVE EXPECTATIONS. They know there is power in their expectations.

I know I’ve experienced it. I’m almost always happy, energetic and enthusiastic. In fact people often comment on the fact they’ve never seen someone work so hard as me and never seem to tire out.

Of course, truth be known, there have been a few times when I’ve felt a bit down or have dragged through a day. Then I’ve had to stop and think, to ask myself what was wrong. Almost always I realize that I approached the day without any positive expectations. It was just another day. I wasn’t expecting anything important or exciting or unusual to happen.

For several years, Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, the author of The Power of Positive Thinking, tested the power of expectations. He would bring a group of people to his church on New Year’s Eve and ask each one to write down his expectations for the upcoming year. They would then put their expectations in an envelope to be opened the next New Year’s Eve.

When the group gathered a year later, each member was surprised by the results. Their expectations had pretty much come true. One person, for example, a devotee of astrology, had taken his reading for the year quite literally. It said that Capricorns could expect to lose their marriage partners and jobs during the upcoming year. He expected the prediction to come true — and it did.

Another member of the group, whose astrological sign was the same, expected a job promotion. That’s what she wrote down. She didn’t know the Capricorn predictions; so she got her promotion.

One member of the group was absent. He had died during the year. When the group opened his envelope, his message simply said, “No member of my family has ever lived past sixty so I expect to die next year.” He did.

Health care professionals know about the power of expectations. Doctors and nurses often tell stories about patients who have terminal conditions and keep on living. The patients live beyond the predictions of the medical books. And in almost every case, the patient was practicing positive expectations — such things as waiting for a granddaughter’s wedding or a visit from a sister. That’s how powerful expectations are. They can even keep you alive when all the miracles of modern medicine have been exhausted!

Some people say they’ll believe it when they see it. And I suppose that’s true. But there’s also some truth in the fact that you’ll see it when you believe it.

Don’t deprive yourself of the power of the positive. It’s something you can have and you can develop. Think “it just might work,” and practice positive expectations.

Action:  The next time you’re in a staff meeting where new ideas are being shared, where changes are being proposed, stop yourself and others from automatically saying “That will never work.” Instead, challenge yourself to see how that new idea “just might work.”