“Make sure those expectations are reasonable.”

Toronto’s hockey team is in a freefall as the playoffs are nearing, and the finger pointing is in full swing. On Tuesday evening the Leaf captain, defenseman Dion Phaneuf, had one of his worst games, which even he had to admit yesterday on talk radio. Humbling, indeed.dion-phaneuf

In a Globe and Mail article this morning, James Mirtle did a good job analyzing this using expectations. As the title says, “Phaneuf a victim of the expectations game”. (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/leafs-beat/mirtle-lofty-expectations-see-phaneuf-under-fire-as-leafs-fade-in-the-playoff-race/article17689999/).

He points out, “They (Calgary, his last team) didn’t trust Phaneuf to do the heavy lifting. And it makes you wonder how much he’s been miscast in Toronto.” He goes on to say that Phaneuf’s role here places him in more shifts in the defensive zone, while his strengths seem to lie at the other end.

So what to do? Mirtle’s concern is that the Leafs are miscasting their top defenseman. “He is a good but flawed player….but if the Leafs continue to cast him as a king….the mixed results are at least partly on them.” His conclusion: “More reasonable expectations wouldn’t hurt either.”

Whether we are drafting, trading, hiring, appointing – however we are putting someone in a role to succeed, if we do not take into consideration their abilities and strengths, we are being unrealistic. And that way, everyone loses.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

 

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“Some things you just cannot predict.”

We have just come through a move from one city to another. We love our new home, and were happy to have a buyer for our previous home firmed up quite quickly. Everything seemed to be moving along well, and then…BOOM….we had a leak in the basement, courtesy of the extreme winter weather which open a crack in the foundation wall. It showed up at the most inopportune time, as we were ready to hand over. Ugh, who would have predicted this?

No one, of course.        moving-van-636

I have already written on the silly notion of “expecting the unexpected”, and shown that is really a meaningless statement. Our issue was not that we did not expect the unexpected, but that we could never predict this turn of events.

The good news is we worked out a compromise to conclude the deal and we have moved on, with thanksgiving and relief. But we also realize that expectations are fluid, and what seems smooth and clear one minute can turn to trouble very quickly. Why? Because life is so often unpredictable.

I will follow up on this subject with some other thoughts on unpredictably in the next few posts. Meanwhile, keep yourself flexible, who knows what may be coming up next.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

 

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“When you say what they don’t expect.”

In my work as a pastor I have received calls for financial help.  We call it benevolence.  The churches I have worked for usually keep a benevolent fund so that we can help individuals or families in times of trouble.  The money or gifts provided are never loans, they are simply sharing our abundance with people in their season of need.  We are happy to do that for those who attend our church, or those who reach out to us from the community and ask for help.

As much as we want to help everyone who asks with whatever they request, that is not realistic.  We have a set policy to guide our giving, both so we can keep our giving within government regulations for charitable organizations, as well as so we can be fair in our use of the resources our people entrust us to use to help the needy.  Part of my role as pastor is to communicate those limitations to those who do make requests. In doing so they can understand why we are helping the way we do as well recognize the limitations we work with in dispersing this fund.

angry expectation call

I share this as background to a situation where someone got very upset with me as I tried to explain how we could help them.  In calling the church, they did not expect to hear a pastor talk about practicalities.   In their mind, the pastor is a person who hears their need and seeks to meet it.  I obviously was not meeting this person’s expectations.  Rather than listen to what I had to say, this person angrily complained that I must not be a pastor, because I was not talking like a pastor.  I replied that I truly was the pastor, and that I was speaking like a pastor, just not the way she expected a pastor to speak.  That call did not end well, sorry to say.

What happens when you say what others don’t expect?  They may say things like:

  • “That’s not what my last professor said….he told me I was exceptional.  How can you say I need to work on that?”
  • “I thought you were going to give me a raise after all the hard work I’ve been doing for you….you don’t even notice what I do, do you?  Instead you are cutting my hours…what’s with that?  Can’t you see I’m your best worker?”
  •  “Hey, Simon Cowell, how dare you question my singing ability…I’ll show you, I’ll win this whole competition…I’ll be a star, I’ll show you!”

We have no control over what others expect us to say.  And they have no control over what they want us to say.  Do not be surprised when people don’t like what you have said.  You simply have said what they did not expect.

That’s the time to ask them why they expected you to say that.

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© Brian F. Reynolds   BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“Who will be the next…?”

CNN has cancelled Piers Morgan’s show, three years after he replaced Larry King.  King retired from his nightly primetime slot after twenty-five years, and the search was on to find the “next Larry King”.  And the winner was Morgan.  Or maybe not.  You see, there was never really going to be a “next Larry King”.  That is an unrealistic expectation.  He was one one of a kind.  In fact, the talk has already begun that King may himself return to that spot on CNN.  Go figure!piers morgan

How often do we find ourselves looking for “the next…”?  In the sports world, when a legend like Gordie Howe was past his prime, (though he did play into his fifties, what a man), the question was “who would be the next #9 (his jersey number on the Red Wings).  Though some sought to be that person, and wear that number, even the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, wore #99 and chose not to model his game after Howe’s.  Gretzky himself was unique, and his game has never been duplicated.  And so it goes.

Yet we so often search for “the next one”.  In religious circles, people talk about the next Billy Graham (one of his children?), or the next Pope John Paul II.  In music, it was the next Beatles, or Michael Jackson.  In business, the next great innovator, in politics, the next charismatic leader.  You get the point.

So what’s wrong with looking for the next….?  Well, simply this: the things that made the last one great are the unique combination of qualities and factors that set that person apart from the rest.  Short of cloning or copying that person, we are much better to celebrate their uniqueness and move on.  And stop looking for the next one.  For no one can or will compare.

How about you?  Are you looking for “the next one” in your life?  As in experience, or job, or relationship?  Does it have to be like the last one?  Let’s hope not, because it never will be the same. And that’s okay!

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© Brian F. Reynolds   BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“Olympic dreams, exaggerated expectations”

patrick chan

Ahhh, we are over half-way through the Winter Olympics in Sochi.  For some, it has been the fulfillment of four years of preparing, training and hoping, since the last Olympics in Vancouver. When events like the Olympics come around only once every four years, there is truly a slim chance of winning the gold.  Yet, for many, it is their dream.

The Olympics brings together the best from many nations to decide, on any given day,  who is the ‘best-of-the-best’.  For teams used to being told in their home nation “You are best”, it can be hard to discover that they really are not the best – at least on that day.

Add to that the great emotional factors.  The bitter disappointment of crashing out.  The frustration of not getting it right on that day, or of being judged harshly for something we believed went well.  The emptiness of coming home without a medal, when four years ago,  he or she had a handful.

Olympic dreams are simply exaggerated expectations, ones lived out on a world stage, in front of high-priced ticket holders, and mass-TV or internet watchers.  We hear them in the onslaught of hyperbole  and superlatives: “They were the best ever… that was the most amazing, awesome, magnificent….”, and on it goes. Is that wrong?  No, but it is unrealistic.  It is impossible to compare what happened on this day with another day years before.

So enjoy the Olympics.  Enjoy the moment.  But understand the dream is but an expectation.  And only some dreams will be fulfilled.

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© Brian F. Reynolds   BFRspace 2014

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“Nobody likes the waiting game.”

Patients wait for medical care in a crowded waiting room at South Central Family Health Center.
She walked into the specialist’s office and immediately noticed there wasn’t even a place to sit. The waiting room was jam-packed. Several people were standing, looking tired and uncomfortable. Each one wishing someone would be called in to see the doctor and give up their chair. “Uh oh”, she thought, “I don’t have time for this!”

It was one of those afternoons where her schedule was tight, and there was simply no time to sit around waiting to see him. But, if she cancels, it will be months to get in again. How long is this going to take?

No one explained how long this wait would be. Why don’t they tell us, ‘You will be able to see him in an hour’ she thought. That would be helpful, not to mention courteous.

After an hour and a half, she’d had enough. She approached the receptionist to complain, and was assured she was next. But next simply meant going to the next waiting area, sitting alone, waiting for the precious few minutes of the doctor’s time. When she returned home that evening she sent him an email citing her complaint, and began the process of finding a new specialist. But would they be any different, she wondered?

Have you had the same experience? I have. Sitting for a ridiculous amount of time waiting for someone or something, with no one giving a clue as to how long it would be. My years of heart illness, surgery and follow-up are a blur now, but at the time they were a painfully slow process of appointments where I sat waiting in uncomfortable chairs, embarrassing hospital clothes (let’s not even go there) and  awkward positions. And rarely did I know for how long.

So, a word to those who have waiting areas in their professions and businesses. Please, please, please, tell us “how long this will be!” In other words, tell us what to expect. It is helpful, courteous and stess-reducing. Always help your patients, clients and customers know what to expect.

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© Brian F. Reynolds BFRspace 2014
“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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“Managing expectations in a crisis.”

20131222-ice-damage

Last week the Toronto area and much of southern Ontario experienced a fierce and destructive ice storm.  While there is never a convenient time for a storm, this one came just days before Christmas, in a time when travel, shopping and visiting are at their highest levels.  Needless to say, many previously made plans were cast aside as survival became the name of the game for homes and businesses left without power.

In the aftermath of the storm, voices could be heard complaining of the handling of the crisis by Hydro officials as well as politicians at both city and provincial levels.  In his column today, The Globe and Mail’s Marcus Gee responds to those critics, defending those charged with responding to the crisis in Toronto (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/globe-politics-insider/in-response-to-ice-storm-toronto-performed-reasonably-well/article16123176/#dashboard/follows/).

This brings up the matter of how we deal with expectations in a crisis.  Certainly we all understand the need to be prepared for various crises.  We recognize that police, fire departments, airlines and countless other agencies work very hard at being ready when they are faced with the worst possible circumstances. My wife, Sandy, trained in-charges and attendants for a major airline.  She observed the detail which those trainees needed to be  equipped to handle a crisis situations.

We also face crises – in our homes, businesses, activities, and so on.  How do we manage those expectations, which often vary greatly among those affected?  A key factor is good communication which is constant, clear and and consoling.  One of my mentors was trained in crisis management for his role in an atomic energy agency.  His role was to speak to the public in times on a nuclear emergency.  His training dealt specifically with how to best communicate to handle the fears and concerns of those in the crisis.  People need to know certain information, and they need to have their fears addressed in an honest and factual way.

One other factor is keeping expectations realistic in the midst of the situation.  The mayor of Toronto and the head on Hydro One each acknowledged that those without power understandably want to know when their electricity would return.  Yet they consistently refused to guess, realizing that setting false expectations could only serve to frustrate their constituency to a much greater extent.  When in a crisis it is tempting to speak from a “best-case scenario”, but that may simply set people up for further disappointment.

There are special needs to address in a crisis, so some planning will be helpful.  The most important aspect is understanding that we are facing a heightened sense of urgency, and the expectations that naturally come with it.

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© Brian F. Reynolds   BFRspace 2013

“What do you expect? The question you need to ask!” is now available in paperback for $20 (Can) from Scarlet Cord Press (www.scarletcordpress.com).

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