Focus On What You Really Want Because Your Opportunities Grow With Your Expectations
3G #3: Your Opportunities Grow With Your Expectations
You can gauge how open your mindset is toward opportunity when you have these 3 attitudes:
- Your opportunities are unlimited in number and in guise.
- Your opportunities are your personal gift from Life.
- Your opportunities grow with your expectations.
Just as your mobile phones are connected to a cellular network, I call these attitudes the 3G Network (Guise, Gift, Growth) because:
Your attitude is how you communicate with your opportunity.
The first two attitudes of your 3G Network indicate something very important about opportunity—your opportunities have a direct relationship with your perspective.
With attitude 3G #1: Your opportunities are unlimited in number and guise, your opportunities become more visible when you let go of your preconceptions of how they should appear.
Problems are often opportunities in disguise. If you ignore your opportunities because of a hidden prejudice, they will go away.
With attitude 3G #2: Your opportunities are your personal gift from Life, your opportunities wait for you to unwrap them and look inside.
Like gifts with your name on them under the Christmas tree, you won’t know what the present is until you give yourself permission to open them.
If you are too scared to receive the gifts of Life, their joy will not be released.
So too with attitude 3G #3: Your opportunities grow with your expectations, your opportunities change as your attitude changes.
The more you expect from Life, the more Life rewards you. As you grow, so do your opportunities.
Or as Frances Scovel Shinn, author of the bestselling book, The Game of Life and How to Play It, put it:
“As you change, so do your opportunities.”
You cannot grow beyond the limits you set yourself. You cannot grow in ability, character, knowledge, finances, or wisdom beyond the capabilities you set yourself.
Shaping Your Expectations
As with the custom of foot binding, you are shaped by your limitations.
For centuries, despite the pain and the severe limitations to walking, Chinese aristocratic women subjected themselves and their daughters to the arduous process of foot binding. Petit bound feet were seen as cultured and desirable, and large unbound feet as uncultured and undesirable.
The process itself meant breaking the bones of young girls’ feet and then tightly binding them to shape them and retard their size as the young girls grew into adulthood.
Foot binding is an example of the extreme lengths people will go to be admired and accepted in their community (and some would add, to keep women subjugated by men).
But our expectations do the same thing. For whatever reasons we put these restrictions on ourselves, the result is the same as if we deliberately break our feet and tightly bind them—a painful, deformed, retarded, and functionally useless self-imposed limitation.
The point is, whether your expectations of yourself are high or low, they are the limits to which you can expand. This has a direct impact on how you see and make the most of your opportunities:
Your expectations of yourself set your opportunities.
Do you see yourself as a winner crossing the finishing line ahead of the pack? Or do you see yourself as lagging behind everyone else?
Do you want first prize in the Game of Life, or are you prepared to take a consolation prize?
Does it matter if you live your dream, or is it not that important?
The answers to these questions reveal the expectations you have for yourself. There’s no right or wrong, but just be aware that your expectations are your limits, and you set your limits.
Nobody else sets them—not society, not your teachers, not your parents, not your boss, not your partner—just you, and like tightly bounded feet you cannot grow beyond those self-imposed limits.
Thankfully, your limits aren’t set in stone. You can change your attitude. You can change your expectations.
You can change the limits you set for yourself.
You can change these things and unbind yourself because you have a superpower, which is your imagination.
Athletes use their imagination superpower all the time through a technique NLP practitioners call ‘future pacing’.
In the lead up to the Olympic Games, athletes will allocate time during their training schedule to visualise their event and see themselves crossing the finish line. In their mind, they perform their event over and over again, seeing and feeling every aspect of the race.
If they are a sprinter, they see themselves in the starter’s block, they hear the starter saying, “On your marks… get set…” and then the starter’s pistol. They feel their muscles tense as they spring out of the blocks. They hear the roar of the crowd. They smell their sweat. They feel their heart pounding as they race down the track toward the finish line, and then the final lurch as they cross ahead of their competitors.
Then, when the Olympics arrive and they’re being interviewed, you’ll hear them tell the journalist, “I’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time.”
Athletes prepare their minds and their bodies for success. Deliberately or not, they’ve actually followed the Diamond Triangle formula of success:
- They defined who they were—an Olympic athlete.
- They determined what they wanted—to participate in the Olympics and win a gold medal.
- They designed how to do it—they developed a training regime that would prepare them.
Then they took action and did it.
So can you. No matter what it is you want to achieve, all it takes is the right attitude and some imagination.
Like all superpowers, your imagination must be trained. If you don’t master your imagination, your imagination will master you.
It’s important to control your imagination because up until now your imagination has probably been controlling you, like a toddler who has you wrapped around their little finger.
We have all future-paced our day when we anticipate what’s ahead and make assumptions about how it will turn out. We’re all doing it, just not with any degree of conscious control. Certainly not with the clarity and preciseness of a professional Olympic athlete preparing for their gold medal event.
In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Walter Mitty has an extremely vivid imagination. He constructs an imaginary world in which he is various heroic and daring characters, such as an intrepid explorer coming to the rescue of Cheryl, a master sculptor wooing his lover, and which generally involve him having superpowers.
But he uses his fantasy world to escape the humdrum of his real world. His imaginations aren’t constructive, more flights of fancy than creative imaginings. They involve superhuman feats rather than down-to-earth human capabilities.
At least his imaginings have a good ending, usually with him saving the day. How often, though, do we imagine the opposite, that the worst will happen?
How often do we anticipate that the outcome is going to be painful, or a burden, or just plainly unwanted? That the effort and cost we’ll need to put in and invest just isn’t worth it?
A Better Forecast
We often use our superpower imagination to imagine failure. We see ourselves unable to cross the finish line.
We project an outcome we don’t want more often than projecting an outcome we do want, and these negative forecasts are usually uncovered in the stories we tell ourselves.
“I’m not good enough.”
“I don’t deserve it.”
“I always get things wrong.”
“I’ll never be able to afford it.”
“What if I fail?”
In 2019, my youngest daughter’s school netball team had made the grand final, a remarkable feat considering the motley crew that had been assembled just a season before.
But each girl had improved immensely since their first game and they had developed into a tight little team punching way above their weight. They had already won two previous finals to progress to the grand final, and as I was driving my daughter to the game I could tell she was feeling nervous.
“What if I stuff up and we lose?” she said, visibly tense.
As the best player and linchpin of the team, she was putting a lot of pressure on herself to perform. Her low expectations were binding her. So I wanted her to visualise a better ending than the one she was currently projecting.
“What if you do well and win?” I replied.
This seemed to work, and as this new vision of doing well and winning, and not performing well and losing the game, had a visible relaxing effect. Her change in attitude released her mental bindings and she was able to expand into her new, higher expectations.
(As a side note, her team won the grand final by 1 point against the top team in the competition.)
The upshot when we imagine or future pace an unwanted result is that we get filled with negative emotions based on those negative assumptions.
We end up reacting to something that hasn’t yet happened, often with anxiety, worry, fear, and stress.
We then bring that anxiety, worry, fear, and stress into our present moment. It affects our interactions with others and our relationships with them.
It affects our energy levels and wellbeing. It affects the quality of our work and what we’re doing.
This negative forecasting makes use of The Diamond Triangle formula too, but to our detriment not benefit.
Let’s use my daughter’s grand final preparation as an example:
- Define who you are—a netballer who is not very good.
- Determine what you want—we’re probably going to lose.
- Design how to do it—I’m going to stuff up and not do very well.
This is not the best use of the formula for having fun and making the most of your opportunities. Each layer of thought is a layer of tight mental bindings, which you can’t really hope to perform at your best under such constrictions.
But let’s see how my daughter was able to change her negative forecast into a positive one:
- Define who you are—a netballer who is going to give it her best for the team.
- Determine what you want—we can actually pull this off and win.
- Design how to do it—I’m going to play well and give 100% effort.
This is a better use of the formula for having fun and making the most of your opportunities. Each layer of thought is now a possibility into which you can grow and perform to your best.
Your opportunities grow with your expectations.