With great expectations come great disappointment

Yesterday it was SnT Partnership Day and almost everyone in SnT was present at the event. We had to, because it was meant to be SnT’s “major” event for publicity. Besides SnT staff, current and potential partners, investors and government officials were also there. The program looked good on paper: keynote speaker from Fraunhofer, student demos and posters, round-table discussions on innovation and tech-transfer, and so on. I also expected the event to be great, only to find myself disappointed after the event.

The event was not well organized. Schedule was not well followed. After the morning coffee break people remained “networking” outside the conference room while speakers on stage talked with low volume. Students were told to leave the table for guests but there are not enough table for neither guests or students. I guess only “important” people eat sitting.

I was especially disappointed at the round-table discussion. For the first half-hour the host slowly introduced the guests, making jokes that are not funny at all. And for the remaining half-hour six guests were asked one or two questions and there didn’t seem to be any insightful or in-depth discussions. I could have done better than that.

And for the posters, it worked as I had expected: we wasted time preparing for it and few people actually cared about it. And in fact I didn’t care either. Posters are certainly not my favourite dish.

This makes me sad. Whenever I expect something great, it will almost certainly disappoint me. I suppose I’m not good at expectation management at all. The solution to this issue is, of course, “I don’t care (about the results)”. However, this is also dangerous. Not caring about certain things is fine, but one cannot care about nothing. There is always something one lives up for.

It’s funny how expectations work on us. If we have low or no expectations, we don’t care what might happen and we don’t feel motivated about things better. In this case things won’t get better because no efforts are made. On the other hand, when we expects too much, the results often fail us. We feel more pressed and more nervous. And then we doubt ourselves and feel depressed.

It’s difficult to manage our own expectations, yet more so when it comes to managing others’ expectations on you. Expectations are not static and constant. They grow when you meet others’ expectations and they’re lowered when you don’t. Neither is good for you. When expectations grow, there will definitely be a day when you’re not able to fulfil them, despite how hard you try and how much pressure you receive. When expectations are lowered on you, this means people are already getting disappointed and you’re going to lose opportunities. From a longterm perspective, it might be good to only slightly meet or fail the expectations, so that they don’t grow exponentially but instead together with your capability. Sustainability is the key.

Having said that, it might even worthwhile trying failing expectations every now and then, so that you’re able to get a hold of other’s expectations, instead of the other way round. It will be painful, but that’s the only way I’m aware of.

To sum up, the key really is about living your true self. What others expect from you should only have minimum impact on you. Let them manage their own expectations on you and why should you worry about it?

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