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Why Should a Leader Always Hope
& Never Expect?

By Arkya Dey

There is this saying in the India Upanishad Bhagwat Gita, “Karm Karo, phal ki chinta na karo”. This roughly translates to, do your job and stop worrying about the outcomes or results. What I take personally from this saying is, to do the job without having the expectation of great outcomes. Mostly because the outcome is not within our control. It is only the Job that is done and controlled by us. Expecting too much and worrying about the outcome, leads to unnecessary stress. This stress further leads to degrading the quality of the job in the first place. In short, focus only on things you have control over and hope for the best.

One might wonder if there is much difference between Hope and Expectations. Given the scenario, this confusion is obvious. But sadly, the meaning of both these words are vastly different in all contexts. These are both personal traits that are part of personality development on individuals. Both are very intimate feelings that every individual experience in life. This context holds more value to someone, who has too many things happening simultaneously in life. When someone runs too many efforts or initiatives in life, the chances of both Hope & Expectation rises. This is exactly why Leaders should understand the true meanings of both these terms.

What is expectation?

It’s certainly not a negative word, but it is an unhealthy attachment to a superficial belief. You might have expectations from your subordinates, partners or even the freelancer you hire expecting to deliver. Expectation is the feeling is what we want to happen irrespective of what is happening in reality. It’s typically gets fixed or frozen in our systems. Basically, with expectations, you feel entitled to a certain thing to happen. And this we do, without contemplating the outcomes or the efforts we have put into the act. Chances are high, we won’t get the same thrill from expectations matched compared to when hopes are fulfilled. This is because you have been assuming you were entitled to the thing to happen in the first place. Usually, our expectations are limited to our past experiences

For example, I expect her to say yes. I expect a call back with affirmation from my dream company. When we say both these statements, we are somewhat adamantly expecting for the thing to happen. We are only looking at that as the final achievement, which might or might not be unreal or delusional. That sense of entitlement we are indulging in is not healthy for us and our growths.

What is hope?

Hope is a very positive feeling from within, something that is usually restricted to us. One could say it’s the anticipation of something great to happen. We base our hopes on the efforts we have taken and anticipate accordingly. It’s the feeling when you expect certain things to happen in your favor. Mostly because you, for yourself know what was invested in the act. It is usually associated with us, our thoughts, our dreams and our goals. But most importantly, while hoping we also have the idea of the thing not happening. So when it actually happens, it seems like an added bonus. And chances are, the thing you hoped for, doesn’t happen. Hope is flexible, it has chance or scope for improvisation. You might feel bad, but you are still okay because you had in the back of your mind. All I mean to convey with this description is, hoping as an act is not far from reality.

For example, you hope to reach a certain position in your corporate ladder. You hope to be a travel blogger. You hope to live an abundant and fulfilling life. When you speak both these statements, you have an optimistic attitude but you know the chances of them not happening too.

A one-liner difference

Hope is a beautiful thing to hang on to. It has the potential to keep you moving and improvising positively throughout your life. At the same time, Expectation makes sure that we do not accept what we do not want.

Why should a leader always hope and not expect?

  1. Expectations can spoil relationships and lead to unhappiness -
    Because of their rigid nature, expectations lead to irritations and frustration. As a leader, when you expect something from your subordinates and it doesn’t happen, you are bound to feel irritated. In situations like these, you try to take control and change things in favor instead. This negatively impacts our relationships with them. Gradually the way you see them and the way you treat them changes. This subsequently leads to unhappiness and frustration in both parties.

    But with Hope, you are flexible. You keep hoping for a certain thing, you try new ways to plan it. You can either become successful after multiple attempts or you realize it’s farfetched for you.

  2. Hopes leaves scope for improvement -
    Hope is capable of renewing faith in things and people. This renewed faith in things, people, beliefs gives way to new beginnings. Hope gives you the grounding you need to enforce what they stand for. As a leader, you know how important it is to be adaptable to changes. Hope gives you that window for improvisation.
  3. Hope has the potential of renewing self-confidence -
    With expectations, the frustration is mutual between you and the person you had expected from. This distress is born from not being capable of standing up to someone’s expectations. For some people, this can be very demotivating and a serious attach to their self-confidence.

    But when you hope a certain thing from someone, the relationship/equation is flexible. Even if they do not succeed, they know your hopes still hold true. Chances are, they will work harder and better in future attempts. Your confidence in them makes them more determined to stand up for your hopes from them.

  4. Expectations can lead to poor work ethics and degrade the work environment -
    As discussed in point 1 and 3, expectations can lead major stress and unhappiness. Once someone understands and sees your dissatisfaction, things go for a toss. This will gradually lead to poor equations, low productivity.

The Take-Away

It’s easier to let go of your expectations from others and replace the same with hope. When you do this, you will enjoy things the way they are instead of the way you wanted them to be.

Author Bio: Arkya Dey
Arkya executes and strategizes content marketing campaigns at PagePotato. An MBA by education and a designer by heart, he loves analyzing social media trends and likes to read/write on human behavior & managing workspaces. Apart from this, he makes Infographics and Explainer videos on his favorite subjects. He hits the gym daily and in his spare time, he helps upcoming movie makers with script writing. You can also find him on LinkedIn and Twitter.
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