Expectations can help you grow. Unreasonable expectations will only frustrate all parties involved, however. My college organ teacher, (yes, I played the organ during college) Mr. Shanko was a crusty, old, organ virtuoso whose expectations helped me become a much better organist. What I didn’t know, however, is that the law of expectation would carry over into other areas of my life. “If I accomplished so much more than I though I could in this arena, what other areas can I outperform my own expectations?” I eventually asked myself. So how can you help those around you succeed without creating unreasonable expectations for them?
See what they cannot. Mr. Shanko saw a talent in me that I didn’t see. He affirmed it during our lessons together. “You’re very good. You could be great,” he used to say. I though the organ was cool because I could make sounds with my feet. I took it as an elective out of curiosity, but the experience ended up shaping the rest of my college career.
Start small but keep stretching. My first couple of organ pieces were “doable” but not extremely difficult. But within two weeks, Sam told me, “I’m thinking about giving you Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor” (you know, the organ song that comes on the radio every Halloween and featured on every 1950’s creature movie). I hadn’t signed up for that but my teacher convinced me I was ready for it.
Hold them accountable. The darn thing was hard. Very hard. I was over my head and wanted to give it up several times. Mr. Shanko would not let me. He had this encourager/coach/crazy professor thing going on that worked for me. “You’re making progress!” “Are you deaf? How many times are you going to play the same wrong note?” “Bigger, I want bigger and louder!!!” The man was all over the place yelling at me from the empty auditorium where the organ was, but in the process I mastered one of the most recognizable and difficult organ pieces.
I performed the Toccata and Fugue for the music faculty during the final exams my very first semester of college. The next day I was asked to be the campus organist for the next 4 years.
In retrospect, that private organ elective was one of my most, if not the most, important college experience. It shaped my view of my talents as well as it gave me a different perspective in what I could accomplish if I worked hard enough.
How has the law of expectation work in your life?