Once in a while a news article or bit of information leaves me truly amazed. A pod cast by NPR’s Invisibilia, entitled How to Become Batman, did this for me just a few weeks ago. The podcast starts off with pretty big claims about the power of expectations. Scientific research has shown that what we THINK about a rat, whether it’s extra smart or dumb despite its actual average intelligence, impacts its performance of going through a maze. Crazy, right?! The program goes on to share that unspoken expectations not only effect rats but humans as well. Whether you like it or not the expectations others have of you actually impacts your ability to perform. The presenters of this podcast go so far as to say that expectations effects the ability of blind people to see. Yes, physically blind. Ridiculous, right? I entered as a skeptic as well. You have to listen to it for yourself to be amazed.
This information about the power of expectations is critical for managers, parents, and teachers everywhere. Do you feel like your employees can only go so far? What subtle messages are you sending them that is limiting their performance and ability to learn? What external expectations have you allowed to infiltrate the way that you think about yourself and your abilities?