Expectation vs Reality
Have you ever gone to a restaurant and ordered from pictures only to be disappointed by the food that is actually delivered? Expectation vs reality can be disillusioning. Fast food places are notorious for this kind of thing. Have you ever received a burger that is so delicately constructed that the pickles, ketchup, onion, cheese and burger all are perfectly aligned on a gently placed bun, cooked to picture perfect satisfaction? I haven’t had the pleasure yet to experience that kind of reality, but I keep hoping… Or what about that picture perfect sundae you dream about, only to get a vanilla cup with a wooden spoon …?
One big struggle we face in our own leadership, is our ability to accomplish the expectations that we have of ourselves or that others place on us vs the reality of our time and resources.
Let me ask you this question: have you ever been under a time constraint and so you cut corners in order to deliver the final product?
When was the last time you were truly satisfied with the work that you’ve done?
Often I find that leaders are rarely satisfied with the amount of time, effort and quality of their own leadership.
What about the expectation? Who places these expectations on you? Are they realistic or were they something that were written down in hopes that we would achieve them?
Can you be the leader you are expected to be? How can you get it all done? How can you lead and be led? Can you grow yourself and grow your oversight?
Let me ask you a different question: What are you holding onto that you don’t need to be doing? That may feel like a low blow, or a gut check, but it needs to be addressed. You are the only one that can grow yourself and grow your influence. What expectations are you unfairly placing on yourself? What can you share with others in order to do what only you can do?
What projects or ideas are you spending time on that you really want to be spending time on? How are you investing in your own spiritual health and growth? Do you constantly have expectations that are placed on you (by yourself or others) that you don’t feel you can meet?
Here are a few examples that we have run across:
Expectation: Deliver a great sermon/teaching on Sunday morning.
Reality: You only have 2 hours to give to it this week.
Expectation: Increase the number of leaders in the ministry.
Reality: You have asked everyone you know already…5 times.
Expectation: You will lead the strategy and vision for the future of the church.
Reality: You don’t know where you are going for lunch let alone the coming year.
Expectation: You have scheduled meetings to attend.
Reality: People keep starting conversations with you or stopping by your office for a quick chat.
Expectation: When there is crisis you are the one who will help.
Reality: Everyone is always in crisis…
These are just a few of the real examples we come across regularly. Maybe some of them resonate with you, maybe they all do. So, how can you begin to find a healthy balance of expectations vs reality in your leadership?
Here are three areas where you can begin to align expectations to the reality of your leadership.
- Awareness: Become aware of the expectations you have created for yourself. Why have you placed these expectations on yourself? Understand realistically what you are capable of and what time it will take you to complete your own expectations. Take time to consider others’ expectations of you. Learn why these expectations are in place and consider reevaluating them with those in influence and leadership around you.
- Communication: Clearly communicate with those around you what you are able to do and what you most want to do. Let them know about time constraints, let them know about your goals and values. Bring them close by letting them know what you can and can’t do, so that their expectations are more closely aligned with your reality. Keep this communication going.
- Boundaries: Create healthy boundaries for your schedule and relationships. Look for opportunities to align side conversations to a common meeting time. If someone needs your time, give them a couple meeting opportunities and let them align to your schedule. When you have something reserved, allow it to take priority. Finally, schedule time in your schedule for your own growth, study, family and friendships.
Your leadership will thrive as you work to align expectations and reality in your leadership. It will take some work, but you are the only one who can do it and you are the only one keeping yourself from being more aligned.
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In what ways is Expectation vs Reality out of sync for you in your leadership? Share your insights, or ask your question here.