Saturday, July 21, 2012

Beyond expectations

One of my life lessons has been patience.

In the book, The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster, a bored, young boy named Milo, begins a transformational journey through a phantom tollbooth that popped up in his bedroom. One of the first places he visits is the Land of Expectations. In this land he learns that “Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you're going. Some people never get beyond expectations.”

This phrase hidden in a children’s book reverberated within me. I recognized it was profound although I did not fully understand it until I applied it to my mindset as a manager. My management style, sourced by my perfectionistic tendencies was to micro-manage. I was convinced that I was the only one who could get the job done in the proper way by the deadline. So I found fault with my employees and judged them because they did not meet my expectations. Where I was headed was efficiency, productivity and star performance. My expectations were that everyone had the same life lesson as me. Never had I considered going beyond expectations.

What I learned, as did Milo, was that each person on my team had lessons to learn, their own unique lessons and therefore their unique developmental paths to follow for advancement. And what each needed to grow and evolve was different from my path. I needed to learn to be more patient. So I began to look at the situation through a new lens, one that recognized and even valued how different we all are. Now I operate from a different perspective, knowing that people bring their own unique talents and gifts to bear as I do. With diversity of lessons, we have greater assets to capitalize on.

When I began respecting and appreciating my staff for who they were and not whom I thought they ought to be, the work environment became more friendly and open... and curiously, more productive. As I lived this lesson more thoroughly and practiced it more frequently, I became more patient with “foibles and faults” and even, with self-amusement I might add, began to become more patient with myself. To this day I don a big smile when someone says to me, “Thank you for your patience.”

Teri-E Belf

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