EXCEEDING EXPECTATIONS, Your Break Away from Being Average

Expectations are a part of our personal and professional life. Our parents had them while we were growing up, as well as teachers, coaches, and so forth. In the workforce, employers set expectations for our performance, typically established in the form of annual reviews or evaluations. th-3

Let’s be honest, expectations are found throughout all facets of life. There are just certain things people expect from us and likewise, things we expect from others.

Allow me to share a story with you.

A few years back, I recall a Friday afternoon at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks and I was eager for the trip to be over. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but since I was flying from Boston, I didn’t think anything of it. As I checked the monitor, however, I noticed that my flight had been delayed forty-five minutes. Of course I was annoyed, but that’s how it sometimes goes when you’re traveling, right? Unfortunately, the forty-five minute delay turned into a three-hour wait! By this point, I wasn’t just annoyed, I was mad! Looking around the gate, it was clear that all the other passengers were angry as well.

sq-akl-gate-16-seating In spite of this, something started to happen at the gate. Airline workers began handing out drinks and snacks. I noticed a slight shift in the mood of the delayed passengers, including myself. In fact, I actually heard a few laughs. Eventually, we all boarded the plane and headed south. The general mood brightened when the flight attendant announced that due to the delay, all drinks were free. Sweet!

The crowd buzzed a little louder and the overall atmosphere was a cheerful one. People seemed happy and the flight, thankfully, went very quickly. Before I knew it, we were in Dallas.


The airline not only met my expectations, but exceeded them as well! My initial expectation was just to get home safely. Even though I didn’t arrive home as scheduled, I observed an airline that went above and beyond to accommodate a situation that ultimately, was out of their hands.

How is it that expectations are exceeded? Generally speaking, it’s easy to meet expectations, but what if you knew how to surpass them?

I’ve established a list of personal insights and thoughts that I truly believe will help you not only meet expectations, but exceed them. Listed below are the things I use as a reminder when I set expectations for myself.

These work for me. However, I hope my insights inspire you to try some as well in your own life. Read through these and decide what works for you and then us them.

  1. I recognize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality
  2. I consistently strive to exceed expectations
  3. The only person that can raise my standard of expectations isME!
  4. I expect more from myself than others expect from me
  5. I realize that it’s impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectations
  6. I recognize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations
  7. I constantly reflect upon the statistic that only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations and 80% don’t even meet minimum expectations
  8. I understand that simply meeting expectations is average.  I don’t want to be average
  9. I will never be excellent in my weaknesses
  10. I expect more from myself than anyone else
  11. I refuse to live in the past
  12. I don’t use relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings
  13. I understand respect must be earned daily
  14. I continually ask for feedback
  15. I only travel the high road with others
  16. I give 100% at key times with key people everyday
  17. I value people too much to not give them my best
  18. I exceed expectations because I surround myself with those who exceed expectations

I once heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and attained his first job. As they were having lunch one day, John asked Troy if he knew how to set himself apart from the rest of the other employees. He said you have to set yourself apart; otherwise, you’ll just be another employee. Here are the things John told Troy to do:

  1. You must work harder than everyone else-come in early and stay late. Eat in for lunch most times.
  2. Do something for somebody, even when it’s not your job-Make it a point to do something for someone everyday, even though it’s not technically under your job description.
  3. Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job-Express gratitude and humility.

In my opinion, these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations. Surpassing expectations will set you apart from everyone else. It opens the door for a bright and successful future.

If you’ve heard me speak, then you have heard me say,


I also state, “People aren’t going to care how much you do or accomplish, until they know that you are better than average”.th-8



What a great time to be a leader or in a leadership role! Yes, you read that right. Let me repeat, what a great time to be a leader OR in a leadership role! Are you a leader just because you’re in a leadership role? In my opinion, NOT NECESSARILY! I know many people in leadership roles, that for the life of me, I cannot figure out how they got there.

Leaders, true leaders, possess certain traits and attributes. There are certain things that leaders are good at and do well. I believe there has to be something that sets them apart from the rest of the organization. If not, anyone could be a leader.

What if there was something that would make you more successful, more effective, and make your job easier? As leaders, it is our duty to learn what it takes to become both effective and successful. These two things, being effective and successful, can have lasting impacts.

This article will provide you with the must-haves to be an effective and successful leader. In fact, I don’t believe you can be a successful leader without first being an effective one.

What led to the creation of these top must-haves? After much deliberation, they were the result of a personal need to try something new. What I did for many years in the professional arena, unfortunately, did not work. I had good performance on occasion, but it wasn’t sustainable. I discovered that a personal approach to leadership was what I needed. One of the things I noticed in many leaders was a general lack of character. That generalization not only motivated me, but also helped me develop the “Must-Haves” from a perspective on character.

Listed below are the Must-Haves:

  1. Must have an unwavering PASSION for the profession.
  2. Must have a great ATTITUDE
  3. Must be a PROBLEM SOLVER
  4. Must take INITIATIVE
  5. Must have HUMILITY

The following information is an overview of each item listed above. This is just an overview. Each item could be an article all it’s own and probably will be. However, I try to provide basic practical information for each.

1.  Must have an unwavering PASSIONLove your profession or leave it!

I am so tired of meeting professionals that hate their job, hate their profession, or those who simply chose their job because it’s easy. If that is you, find a job that you love, a profession that builds passion.

Passion fuels your will-power as a leader. Without it, you’ll lack the drive to change and overcome obstacles. Those of you who lack passion within your profession, QUIT!

Passion is what drives me to learn more and work hard everyday, so that I can rest easy when my employees make it home safely from work.

2.  Must have a great ATTITUDEA great attitude is a positive attitude.

I think it was William James who once said, “The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes.”

3.  Must be a PROBLEM SOLVER – Can’t let your problems be a problem

Leaders are good at identifying problems, issue and concerns. Whether it is conditions or behaviors, leaders can tell you what is wrong and many are very good at it! In fact, I think a lot of professionals take pride in identifying and pointing out issues. The question is, are you good at solving the problems? Be a problem solver and influence!

4.  Must take INITIATIVE –  READY………FIRE………AIM.

My staff hears it all the time. What does it mean? Shouldn’t you aim first, then fire? No. Simply identify the problem, fix it, and then make the necessary adjustments later. At least you did something. If you never take initiative, things will never get done!

If you identify a problem or something that needs to be done, who is the best person to initiate the solution? YOU ARE!

5.  Must have HUMILITY – Humility is better than humiliation

I always have to include humility in any discussion I have on leadership, regardless of whether I am focused on the HSE Profession or leadership in general.

Why? The reason is because so many leaders struggle with this. They’re under the impression that you must be tough, authoritative, and all knowing in every situation. I’m aware of this because I used to lead that way.

However, throughout all of my leadership mistakes in life, marriage, parenting, and work, I realized that leadership is about knowing what you know, and more importantly, recognizing what you don’t know. Not only is there intrinsic value in the admitting that you don’t know all things, but also external importance amongst employees who sense your humility.

Here’s a promise, employees sometimes know things that you don’t know. They may not say it to your face, but trust me; they are talking behind your back.

I love what C.S. Lewis and Lou Brock have to say about the subjects of humility and pride:

 C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.”

Lou Brock said, “Show me a guy who is afraid to look bad, and I will show you a guy you can beat every time.”

 A lack of humility makes us vulnerable. Without it, we open the door for negative things. People don’t want to follow arrogant leaders, they want to follow someone whom they believe in and connect with. A lack of humility withholds honest connections with others; therefore, we must act as humble leaders.


Here’s a re-cap of the must-haves for leadership.

  1. Must have an unwavering PASSION for the profession.
  2. Must have a great ATTITUDE
  3. Must be a PROBLEM SOLVER
  4. Must take INITIATIVE
  5. Must have HUMILITY

This is a very quick overview of each item. Honestly, it’s only an introduction into what it takes to become an effective and successful leader. Throughout the years, these five must-haves have helped distinguish me as a leader. They are my personal aspirations and they may or may not work for you. You must evaluate your current leadership style. Identify what will complement your personality and how you can create influence that will enable you to lead.

Take time and research each of these must-haves and learn how to apply them in your current position. I am confident that you will become a more effective leader because of it.