I confess, I often tend to have a low opinion of people. There’s so often this incredible selfishness and entitlement that permeates everything in American society. People are often rude, self involved, and think that they are speshul snowflakes who should be able to flaunt the rules. I say this because I’ve seen it REGULARLY and dealt with it. My husband deals with it in his job every day (I think anyone who works with the public probably does).
Yesterday’s meeting was not like that. For which I am ETERNALLY grateful. I could NOT have been more wrong about how that was going to go. It was a nice session of information, clarification, explanation during which the kid took full responsibility for kid’s own actions. How gloriously refreshing! Nobody asked for a do over for missed work (color me SHOCKED) or did anything to try to strong arm me (it’s happened to other colleagues before, so it wasn’t an unreasonable expectation of what might happen) into special treatment or violating my principles. I cannot tell you how proud I was of this kid. Dad said…very little and was apparently along for moral support. Which, hey great. I’m grateful it wasn’t one of THESE parents. Really have no idea why this conversation couldn’t be had over the phone, but some folks communicate better in person (I’m not one of them, so I have a hard time wrapping my brain around that). So, all’s well that ends well and we are all much relieved. Not sure I’ve ever been so glad to be WRONG before.
It’s got me thinking about karma and self fulfilling expectations though. I mean, how often do we think about the negative and get…exactly that. There is a certain level of self fulfilling expectations in that. You get what you expect because that’s what you’re LOOKING for, so you’ve missed all the subtle cues that might point you in a more positive direction. Human beings are literally programmed to place more weight and attention on the negative. Nowhere is this more evident than in the proliferation of BAD CRAP in the mass media. And that’s just a sad state of affairs.
Can’t it be that if we all made a concerted effort to look for the best in people, to expect the best from people, that more of them would deliver? Some people naturally do this. My pal Lauralynn Elliott is one of the best. She always has the best outlook and is willing to give everybody the benefit of the doubt.
I think those of us who’ve spent time on the Cynic’s Side of the fence often look at those kinds of people as somehow naive or out of touch with reality. But unless you’re talking about a solid fact, like the atomic weight of carbon, reality doesn’t actually exist. There’s only PERCEPTION. (Which, hey, does anybody else feel a compulsion to go watch Inception again for a lesson in THAT?) Sure, we can’t control other people’s behavior (and overt attempts are often likely to backfire), but what if we, as a whole society just made a shift in how we deal with each other? If we all expect the best, exert that subtle social pressure and focus on the positive, couldn’t we change the whole TONE of everything?
I mean, it works on other levels. I have incredibly high expectations of my students. I’m a hard ass teacher and I make no apologies for it. And most of my students (after a rude awakening) tend to step up and work harder. Because I expect them to.
So my challenge to myself (and all of you) today is to expect MORE from people. Expect them to be good, be awesome. Kid President issued the order, remember? And maybe we’ll all be pleasantly surprised.