Expectations Mismatches & Moon Men
Friday, June 24, 2011 6 Comments
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Frustrated expectations are difficult to overcome.
by Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
“You do something right ONCE and they
hold it against you for the rest of your life!”
~ Mel Levine
One of the complaints you often hear about ADD/EFDers (and all of us struggling with kludgy Executive Functioning) is that our cognitive and functional abilities are erratic.
In posts to come, I will share with you what I have discovered about WHY that it so: why our behavior seems so unpredictable, and what we can do to change that perception.
I would like to introduce you to some of the theories and concepts that underlie the manner in which I work with Executive Functioning Deficits of all types — a way that allows you to put the pieces together so that you understand what you need to DO to be able to drive your own brain — without the constant fear that it will break down on the road!
Prediction is key
An ability to predict the impact of your particular combination of cognitive challenges allows you to realign expectations realistically, so that you can design action plans that are likely to succeed. Almost more important, through prediction’s crystal ball you will be able to design action plans that produce the kind of results that are more likely to be perceived by others as successful.
Subsequent posts will say more about learning to predict yourself. I want to begin by tackling the “perception of others” part of the equation. In this post I want to describe an unconscious dynamic in our society that makes it tough for ALL of us, but especially for those of us with Executive Functioning Deficits.
It is very difficult to allow yourself the experience of success when the feedback that surrounds you focuses primarily on real or imagined “shortcomings.” And it happens ALL the time. What’s up with THAT?
Man on the Moon Thinking
“If they can put a man on the moon, why on earth
can’t they . . . [fill in the blank]??!”
We humans tend to look at ourselves and each other with an expectation that we live up to our potential. Unfortunately,“potential“ has almost always been defined, unconsciously, as
being equally effective in all arenas.
Man on the Moon Thinking and School
As long as little Susie brings home a report card full of C’s, Mom and Dad know
what to expect. They are thrilled with an occasional B, but are not disappointed
if Susie maintains her solid C performance.
If her brother Bobby’s grades are all over the map, even if his high grades
cluster in certain subjects, with his low grades in others — and even if
his GPA is higher than his sister’s – everybody slips into problem-solving mode.
What’s even worse, expectations are set, not by baseline abilities, but by the
highest standard of behavior demonstrated consistently in ANY area of life!
If Bobby is able to make an A in a few subjects, he should be able to ace them ALL.
- Because he brings home A’s, the Bs become a problem.
- Anything below a B is an out and out crises!
It is the rare parent who will look at Bobby’s skills profile, suspecting that something was missing — some foundational skill that suddenly became necessary — as a possible explanation for the ‘bad’ grades.
Most parents will conclude that Bobby isn’t hitting the books hard enough!
Man on the Moon Thinking and Work
It is an even rarer supervisor or employer who will notice, for example, that a Sales Manager needs a completely different skill set from the one that created his success as a salesman.
- If a newly promoted employee can master his former position, he should be able to handle the new one at the same level of competency.
- His subsequent performance reviews are based on that assumption.
The Peter Principle in action! Workers are promoted to their level of incompetence, and job satisfaction is replaced by supervisory disdain. The beat goes on!
Man on the Moon Thinking just about everywhere
If they can put a man on the moon,
why on earth can’t they figure out
how keep cell phones from dropping
Yeah, the lazy bums . . .
Never mind that “putting a man on the moon” has very little to do with cell phone connectivity, demonstrated excellence in one area has raised the standard of expectations across the board.
Perhaps you might have a leg to stand on in favor of universally high global expectations when groups of people – organizations, corporations and governments – assemble TEAMS to create results. Even then, the skill-set to accountabilities matching must be excellent to stand a shot at excellent results across the board.
At the level of the single individual, it is a totally unrealistic expectation. NOBODY is universally excellent in ALL arenas. We all have our areas of brilliance as well as our, shall we say, growing edges. You know that. I know that. He, she and it knows that!
And still . . .
Man on the Moon Thinking
- filters our expectations,
- affects how we feel about ourselves,
- changes what we are willing to attempt, and
- alters how we interact with others.
How many examples of Man on the Moon Thinking have YOU heard?
Next time, pay attention to the tone of voice.
I have observed that it usually ranges from simple frustration
to frustrated entitlement.
- Not only has universal excellence become the unconscious expectation, people are annoyed when they don’t see it!
- Each of us has internalized those global expectations to some degree.
- Our language is full of terms and platitudes that quantify our unconscious bias, for example, “imposter syndrome” – “dilettante” — and one of my personal favorites, “A thing worth doing is worth doing well.”
(Ahem! If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly too – but few of us say THAT!)
Pushing a Rope
Man on the Moon Thinking keeps most of us from the wild successes we could have if we approached life another way because . . .
- Every minute we work on strengthening a weakness, we are unconsciously affirming that we are not good enough.
- That, in turn, makes us feel defensive.
- Defensive people tend to keep pushing on locked doors. They usually do NOT choose to figure out how to buck the tide to accomplish objectives in a different way – a way that works for them – a way that builds on strengths rather then compensating for deficits.
Strategizing for Success
Never let what you can’t do become more important than what you CAN.
In my mind, the first step on the road to success is to determine exactly where your energies will be best leveraged, organizing your life to avoid areas of struggle whenever possible.
We need to STOP allowing the expectations of others to shame us into giving a “substandard”
area more energy than it’s worth – and we must be very careful that we don’t do it to ourselves.
The next step needs to be the identification of what keeps getting in the way of demonstrating our brilliance – to be able to focus on strengthening only those Challenges that are holding us back
Finally, we need to figure out how we need to approach each task.
- Individual differences mandate different approaches
– in sports and in life!
- We have to understand our cognitive strengths and limitations as well as our other physical apparatus if we expect to be winners
- We need to “rewrite our Owners Manuals,” so that we can understand how to drive our own brains.
The above text is excerpted fromThe Challenges Inventory eBook™
the second of the twelve eBooks
in the upcoming Optimal Functioning eBook Series™
©2000, 2006, 2011-2013 Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, ALL rights reserved
© 2013, all rights reserved
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