Are you getting what you deserve in life or what you expect? Sometimes when we expect a bad day or a failure of some sort, that’s exactly what we get.
In a coaching session with one of my clients (we’ll call him David for the purposes of this story), a regional finance manager, he remarked that he was about to make a business trip to Korea and it was going to be a disastrous week. He would be joined on the trip by a senior manager from the company’s HQ in Europe. The manager (we’ll call him Chris) was a new hire and apparently a friend of the COO of the company. Feedback from colleagues in Europe had indicated that this Chris didn’t seem to have any real functional portfolio and simply arrived in a territory, meddled, left the local finance manager with a bunch of actions, which were not really the finance department’s remit and then disappeared back to HQ.
Having heard David’s premonition about the trip I said, “And your wish will come true.” This puzzled him and I explained that with such a strongly held belief about the trip it was pretty much a guarantee that it would be a disastrous week. The problem is that when we create such expectations and absolutely believe in them we are subconsciously putting in place all the conditions to guarantee that our expectations will be met. Our belief affects our feelings, our feelings affect our behaviour, which in turn affects results. In this case David, due to his belief, was going to feel lacking in energy, down in spirits, defensive and perhaps even feel some animosity towards Chris. These feelings would inevitably lead to a negative approach to meetings, off-hand or distant behaviour towards Chris and attempts to block him from making input into finance affairs in Korea. In other words the disastrous week was already pre-ordained in David’s mind.
I asked him if he could look at the trip from some different, more positive perspectives. After some coercion he admitted that he didn’t have good high level contact at HQ and Chris might be a useful gateway to top management. He also realised that it would be good for someone to come out from Europe to experience first hand the challenges of doing business in Asia, Korea in particular. Not knowing Chris’s background, it may also be possible that he possessed valuable experience that could be leveraged in Asia. David also determined that he would take the trouble to spend some leisure time with Chris and endeavour to get to know him. With this changed belief and expectation he left our session.
A couple of weeks later I received an email from David telling me what a positive experience the Korean visit had been. All objectives had been achieved, Chris had some common interests with him and the relationship was good. Finally a manager from HQ understood the business climate in Korea and a new channel of influence into HQ had been opened. How differently that trip may have turned out if David had gone into it with his original mind set. A mind focused on failure.
Are you predicting a bad day, week or even year in your own mind? Think again, you may get exactly what you expect.