You Get What You Expect

When I was 22, I was invited to become a Scoutmaster because I was young, I had a lot of outdoor experience, and I could keep up with the older boys who could sometime be a handful. I was the “cool adult” who got to ride in the back of the bus with the kids and they often referred to me as “Mr. Wooten the almost adult.” It was a fun few years.

One of my fondest memories is from one of the last trips that I was able to go on. We took the boys to the Great Sand Dunes. A few of us packed into the middle of the dunes and found an out of the way depression/valley in the sand and just hung out there all day playing Frisbee, pitching the lacrosse ball around, all the while the boys discussed their futures as they were so close to high school graduation. It was one of those idyllic days in life that you just never forget.

But in the beginning before I could become a Scoutmaster I had to go through “Scoutmaster Training” and attend a weekend long workshop. Being so young and not having any children, I often had to answer the question of “what was I doing there,” because the other adults/parents were there sort of out of obligation whereas I was there because I wanted to be. The last night around the campfire with other Scoutmasters and parents, that subject came up and others answered the same question. One of the parents said something that has stayed with me ever since and proved to be the cornerstone of my philosophy as a parent… he said, “children are just like everything else in life… you get out of them what you expect.”

What do you expect from life? What do you expect from yourself? Whatever it is, generally speaking, you get what you expect. Sure there are exceptions… you might have an optimistic outlook only to end up sorely disappointed or you could go into a situation with a negative attitude and come out completely surprised. But overall, I believe the outcomes that we experience in life directly match our expectations.

Friends and family have often pointed out, and quite critically, I might add, that I am “too hard on myself.” That I “expect too much” from myself. While I agree that I do expect a lot of myself, I disagree that it comes from a place of negativity, or fear, or that it ever causes me to beat up on myself if I fall short. But here is the deal… 1. If I don’t expect a lot from myself, who will, and who will make me accountable if I don’t deliver or if I fall short? 2. If I didn’t expect so much from myself (including my most ambitious, lofty, and sometimes crazy ideas) I would never be where I am today.

You get what you expect in this life so I say live your life while expecting a lot! So what if you fall short… It is better to fall short on a huge goal than to achieve a smaller lesser goal any day. Have the courage to hold yourself to a higher standard, and don’t be afraid to set the bar high, ever.

In life, you get what you expect and you manifest that which you focus on. It’s just how it all works. The quote by W. Clement Stone sums it up perfectly, “Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star.”

What are you expecting for your life today? What are you expecting of yourself? Whatever it is, expect more and see how your outcomes change as a result.

Eventually my stint as a Scoutmaster sadly came to an end. Between work, going to school full time, and having a child of my own I did not have the bandwidth to volunteer anymore. It was a great time of my life, as it was maybe my last chance to straddle the fence between boyhood and full-blown adulthood, I don’t know. But it was an opportunity and an experience that I will always cherish and be thankful for.

Andy Wooten M.A. Counseling – Certified Life Coach – Aspen, Colorado

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