Perception isn't the only thing that commands reality...

I will go out on a limb and assume almost everyone has heard the saying "Perception is reality".

Simply put, this reminds us that the reality of something can be highly influenced by people's perceptions, and that reality is more than just something absolute — Sure perception and reality are aligned when looking at what will happen if you fall off a ladder... but what about the success of your current politician; what is the reality of that?

Hmmmm, this is about to become more of a philosophically charged segue than I anticipated but I think I can head it off before we go down a deep dark bunny hole — As much as perception can command reality, so can expectation. There you have it, not the smoothest transition, but a transition none the less.

Expectation: A case in point — 

A meeting is held and it is decided that someone will finish a task by Friday. An expectation is created.

Because very few things exist in isolation, the task will allow further things to be done on the following Monday, which in turn will allow for activity on the Tuesday, Wednesday, et cetera... all of which is built on what was to be done the previous Friday. More often than not, advanced preparation is taking place in anticipation of the expectation; real work is being done and reality is being created due to this expectation. If the Friday task is completed then reality continues, but if it is not, reality is compromised and generally people aren't happy.

This is a very simple and linear example, and although we know the real world meanders much more, I don't think this makes the point any less valid. 

Expectations, once created are very real, and once created, need to be met. If they are not met, more often than not there are negative consequences that are also very real; another reality that expectations command I suppose. Theoretically speaking all expectations can be influenced, but in reality there are some you will have influence on, while others are thrust on you and influence is unlikely. 

For those expectations thrust on you —

  • Understand if you have any influence on the expectations (and if so, try to influence them).
  • Understand the objectives behind the expectations.
  • Understand the expectations in detail, including the context and the timeframes involved.
  • Ensure you discuss and review resources needed.
  • Clearly understand the impact of not meeting expectations.
  • Work really, really hard to meet the expectations you have been given.

For those expectations you can influence see above, as well as —

  • Engage in the development of the expectations... don't miss the opportunity to influence and even set expectations.
  • Remember Murphy's Law... work a "hedge" into any schedules and deadlines because you never know what will happen.
  • Remember the very popular motto, "Under promise, and over deliver".

And remember, if you are the one asked to set the date for the expectation, whatever you do, don't miss it — That is just adding insult to injury,