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You Get What You Expect

January 4, 2012

Here’s a little quiz question:  How many REALLY successful people do you know that have a negative outlook on life?  I am sure you can come up with one or two, but as my colleagues like to say, “that is a thin book.”  Most people who are successful are pretty positive.  So, let’s go back to our basic Motivation equation:

Motivation = (Expectancy)(Value)/(Impulsiveness)(Delay)

Expectancy is exactly what it sounds like:  Do you have a positive expectancy about the future?  Highly motivated people clearly have a positive expectancy. They wake up each day expecting good things to happen.  I know, I know, you are thinking, “Well it is easy to be positive when you have had a lot of success.”  Wrong answer.  You got it turned around.  People are successful because they remain positive and keep persevering even when things are not going well.  For many of us who were raised in high expectation/high criticism families (like mine), the idea of staying relentlessly positive is truly a foreign concept.  We are used to answering questions like “How are you doing?” with replies like, “Hanging in there” or “Getting by.”  In fact, those glass are half full people can be downright annoying to those of us who like to wallow around in muck and negativity.

But, here is the thing I have come to appreciate as I have gotten older:  Energy poured into negativity is draining and ultimately does not lead anywhere.  Successful people expect to succeed, while unsuccessful people are waiting for something bad to happen.  We see this all the time in sports.  The truly successful teams like the New England Patriots, expect to win even if their star quarterback gets hurt.  Remember, a couple of years ago when Tom Brady was hurt in the first game of the season for New England.  They replaced him with a guy named Matt Kassel.  Kassel went to college at Southern California and never started a game in four years.  So, a guy who had not started a game since high school was supposed to come in and replace a hall-of-famer like Tom Brady?  Right!  Kassel came in and proceeded to win 11 games for the Patriots that season, truly remarkable.  If you think it is easy for a backup quarterback to come in and succeed in the NFL, see the Bears and Colts this season for exhibit A & B on how difficult it is for a backup to succeed.

Expecting success is a cornerstone for the highly motivated person.  Listen to the words of Herb Brooks (Kurt Russell in the video) as he talks to his USA hockey players before they play the heavily favored USSR in 1980.  Just two week earlier, the Soviets had trounced the Americans 10-3, yet Brooks expected to succeed.  The miracle 4-3 win by the USA all started with positive expectancy.  Pretty cool.

What do you wake up each day expecting for yourself?  For your kids?  It can make all the difference in the world.

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach in Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 5, 2012 1:10 am

    True! How can we train our children to stay postitive and motivated all the time?

  2. Dan Mack permalink
    January 5, 2012 10:52 am

    Great way to kick it off Pat. A reminder that our ideas and our intentions – become us.

    We must hold on to our identity…


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