Workplace Wisdom

Expectations Can Be Blinding

Here’s a small example of how we prevent ourselves from recognizing reality when our expectations get in the way:

Last week I was scheduled to fly to Las Vegas for the Marketing EDGE board meeting and annual awards dinner. I’ve been going to these events for 20 years and it’s pretty standard to run into someone I know at the airport.

This year was no different and I chatted at the gate with a couple of folks I knew. As we learned about delays (the inbound flight was late and then had to be taken out of service for mechanical difficulties) we chatted some more, took turns getting snacks, etc. Finally the flight was ready to board, and when my row was announced I got in line.

The gate area was extremely crowded and both passengers and crew were a little stressed, as we would be arriving in Las Vegas at least two hours late.

Missed Signals?

“Liz, Liz!” I thought I heard someone calling my name behind me, so I turned and scanned the crowd. When I didn’t notice anyone I knew in the immediate area, I assumed it was a different Liz who was being paged.

“Liz, Liz!” I heard it again so I did a quick mental check — had I forgotten something, and was one of my colleagues trying to alert me about it? I turned and looked again. Nothing.

“Liz, Liz!” What was I missing? This time, when I scanned the crowd, I turned the opposite way — to the direction I had not come from, where the people I knew were not standing.

And that’s when I saw her — another colleague, smiling and waving, someone I had been looking forward to seeing.

My self-limiting expectation — that anyone who knew me would have come from the same direction from which I had come — created a kind of blindness or constrained consciousness.

What are you missing because you’ve limited your own perception?

Onward and upward,

LK

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