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  • Writer's pictureKarl Walker-Finch

Great expectations

So much of our mindset is dictated by our expectations. This is your vision of the end result should you accomplish all you hope to accomplish on the road to your destination.

We are often taught as dentists to help our patients set appropriate expectations of their treatment. After all, we have a lot of knowledge through studies and experience that can inform us of what the best and worst likely outcomes of any given treatment are. Inexperience however, often leads us to overpromise the potential results of treatment and run the risk of underdelivering on our promises.

Once we’ve made, and hopefully learned from the mistake of overpromising to others, we repeatedly make a second, more damaging blunder. We overpromise something to ourselves and are then become defeatist when our ideas are not realised. To consistently underperform against ones own expectations of oneself can lead to feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness and shame. Entering an endless cycle of chastising yourself for not being able to do what you thought you could, trying to do better next time but then still falling short as you had set your bar too high again.

The concern is with where this leads and as I see it, there are one of two destinations on this path. The first, you dig yourself deeper and deeper into your hole. The second, you find some way to cheat the system to meet your own expectations, regardless of the moral cost of getting there. In order to fulfil your expectations will you be drawn into making the wrong choice in a moral dilemma or will you learn to accept that perhaps your expectations were misplaced to begin with?

To have great expectations and to step over anyone and everyone to reach them will invariably lead to catastrophe. It is only on reflection you will see how your actions affected those around you, if that is you are mindful enough to reflect.

Ambition, drive and aiming to achieve the best is not a bad thing. But over zealous expectations most certainly are.

It is the simplest and most transparent trick of the mind to underpromise to yourself, and yet it works. Aim for the best but expect the worst and take joy from anything you achieve beyond this.

“think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day”

Charles Dickens

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