I recently spoke to a group of leaders with the American Society of Safety Engineers at their annual leadership Conference on this very topic. This conference was a chance for Chapter Officers from around the world to come together and learn how to better serve their members. This was especially significant as I currently serve as President of the Oklahoma City Chapter. My goal was to encourage and motivate to do more than simply meet member expectations.
Expectations are a part of everything we do in our our personal and professional life. We all grew up with certain expectations; complete your chores, do your homework, take a bath, brush your teeth, etc. Parents, teachers, coaches and employers all have certain expectations. If we meet those expectations, then people are happy. If we don’t they are unhappy and there is usually an uncomfortable conversation that follows.
Look, expectations are a part of life. There are just certain things people expect from us and we expect from others. Meeting expectations is what everyone strives for. But, why be like everyone else? If you can exceed expectations, you can separate yourself from others and standout from the crowd.
Let me share a story with you.
It was a Friday afternoon and I hadn’t been home in almost two weeks. I was at the airport waiting on a flight to Dallas. It was stormy throughout the western United States, but I was flying from Boston so I didn’t think anything of it. As I checked the monitor, I noticed my flight had been delayed 45 minutes. I was annoyed, but that is how it goes sometimes, right? Well those 45 minutes turned into another 45 minutes, then 3 hrs. NOW, I wasn’t only annoyed but mad! And SO WAS EVERYONE ELSE AT THE GATE!
However, after a few minutes of complaining and multiple very loud sighs, something starting to happen at the gate. Airline workers started handing out drinks and snacks. I noticed a slight shift in the mood, including myself. I could actually hear some laughs and positive comments.
Well, after what seemed like a fairly short time, it was finally time to get on the plane and head south. The mood turned even better when the Flight Attendant announced that we would be receiving free drinks due to the delay. SWEET!!!!!
The plane was buzzing a little louder (I felt like I was on a flight to Las Vegas with a bachelorette party or something) and the mood seemed a lot more cheerful. People seemed happy and the flight went very quickly. Before I knew it we were landing in Dallas.
So let me ask you a question. Do you think the airline met or exceeded my expectations?
Well of course they EXCEEDED my expectations! We arrived at our destination safely. And we were given special treatment for the inconvenience.
By the airline becoming situationally aware with the passenger’s disappointment and recognizing the importance of home and family, they wanted to do something to exceed passenger expectations. Sure they didn’t meet the initial on time expectation, but rather than sitting around dealing with the multiple complaints, they recognized the situation and quickly did what they could to accommodate in whatever way made sense.
As I grow in my personal and professional leadership, I realize everyone wants to meet expectations. People work very hard to meet expectations and simply getting by. However, that creates a bottleneck to performance and ultimately slows a person’s promotional and career advancement.
To excel in one’s personal and professional efforts, there must be something which separates them from others. They must stand out. Their work and effort must be above others. It is easy to blend into the crowd and be average. However, for those who want to advance and achieve something more than average, they must exceed expectations. Average doesn’t get you into the MLB, NFL or NBA. It doesn’t get you a job as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. In fact, average will not get your resume past most employers initial screening and it certainly won’t get you past the initial interview.
So how does someone exceed expectations? I’m glad you asked that question. I have some tips and insights that create a mindset to exceed expectations. These are activities, expectations and insights I personally use when evaluating the expectations others have for me and I have for myself.
Read and reflect on these and put them in context to your specific needs, desires and situation. I think you will find these useful and effective.
9 Personal Insights about expectations:
- I realize disappointment is simply the gap between expectations and reality-Learn to recognize this and take action early to prevent any gaps.
- I consistently strive to exceed expectations and impress every time, through everything I do – Regardless of what I gain.
- I realize the only person that can raise my standard of expectations is………….ME! Always strive to exceed expectations.
- I expect more from myself than others expect from me – I am never satisfied with yesterday!
- I realize it is impossible to offer excuses and still exceed expectation – Excuses deteriorate respect and stop you in your tracks!
- I realize focusing is the single-most important skill in exceeding expectations. Learn to focus and learn what it takes to stay focused even when their are distractions.
- Did you know only 2% of people consistently exceed expectations– 80% don’t meet expectations.
- Meeting expectations is average – If you want to be average, do something else and don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
- You are never going to be excellent in your weaknesses – No matter how hard you work. Exceed expectations where you know you are good.
10 Thoughts, Tips and Actions that will help you EXCEEED EXPECTATIONS:
- Expect more from yourself than anyone else – Integrity begins with you.
- Refuse to live off the past – Yesterday ended last night, Get Over It! However, never be satisfied with yesterday.
- Don’t use your relationships to cover your failures or shortcomings “We’re Friends” is abused!
- RESPECT must be earned DAILY!!! – Earn respect by doing the difficult right things
- Ask for feedback , all the time and after every activity- If you are good, feedback will improve you, if you are bad, feedback will make you better.
- I only travel the high road with others – IN BUSINESS IT MIGHT NOT MAKE SENSE, BUT IN LIFE IT MEANS EVERYTHING
- I give 100% at key times everyday – What are the events, people that require my best?
- I value people too much to not give them my best- Character, People, Perspective, Attitude and Passion Matter
- I exceed expectations because I bring people around me who exceed expectations My performance increases as I surround myself with those who exceed expectations.
I heard John Maxwell tell a story about his grandson, Troy. Troy had recently graduated from college and quickly got 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 employees. Troy simply shrugged his shoulders. John said;
“you have to do something quickly to set your self apart from the rest of the employees, otherwise you will just be another employee.”
Here is what John told Troy to do:
- You must work harder than everyone else – come in early and stay late. Eat in for lunch most times.
- Do something for somebody that is not your job. Make a point to do something for someone everyday that is not your job.
- Make an appointment with your leader (boss) and thank him/her for your job. Express gratitude and humility.
I’d say these three things will exceed everyone’s expectations.Exceeding expectations will set you apart from everyone else. That opens the door for a bright and successful future.
DON’T BE AVERAGE………AVERAGE IS BORING!!! STRIVE TO EXCEED EXPECTATIONS IN EVERYTHING YOU DO!