Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 26th 2013 Contents B5
Tuesday, March 26, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
If we are anxious about something,
we are more likely to notice what we
perceive as a threat than those who are
relaxed. In other words, whatever we
focus on, we see. This is a powerful
concept with significant implications
for both our personal and organisational
lives. What we see is deeply influenced
by what we expect.
Over the years, many scholars have
worked on variations of this concept,
such as The Rosenthal Effect, also
known as the Pygmalion Effect (a psy-
chological finding where a leader's high
expectations of others causes high per-
formance) and the obverse, the Set Up
To Fail Syndrome (where low expec-
tations of others causes low perform-
While these concepts have to do with
expectations we have of others, the
Galatea Effect (named after the stone
statue of the beautiful woman that the
sculptor Pygmalion brought to life) is
about expectations individuals have of
themselves -- it is, in effect, when high
self-expectations become the catalyst
for greater personal achievements.
When that happens, we become our
own positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
This is a significant factor in employ-
ee performance. A good leader who
sets out to help employees to believe
in themselves, in their ability to perform
well, sets the stage for their possibility
The confidence that results from
employees' high personal expectations
in turn spurs them to higher achieve-
ment and productivity; their perform-
ance rises to the level of their own
Perhaps the scholar who has done
the most work in this area is Stanford
University's Dr Albert Bandura, who
pioneered the concept of self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy is our belief in our ability
to perform effectively.
Bandura's theory is that individuals
who have high self-efficacy expecta-
tions---that is, who believe that they
can achieve what they set out to do---
are healthier, more effective, and gen-
erally more successful than those with
low self-efficacy expectations.
High self-efficacy determines many
of the choices we make; the higher the
self-efficacy, the more likely we are to
seek new challenges and persist in the
face of adversity or failure.
High self-efficacy also influences the
effort that we put into achievements.
One might say that we are what we
think we are.
This old adage is now scientifically
proven. From the extensive brain
research that is being conducted, we
know that our brains are not hard wired.
We know that the brain is plastic, and
has the ability to reorganise itself every
time we have new experiences.
According to Dr John Kounios, Drexel
University Medical School professor of
psychology and cognitive neuroscientist,
our neural connections change even
after a 20-minute conversation! This
gives new meaning to the positive
impact that a conversation can have
with a coach or mentor when it focuses
on high expectations that we have of
So, what are your thoughts about
yourself, about your as-yet untapped
potential? On a scale of 1 to 10, how
would you rate your self-efficacy? What
expectations do you have of yourself?
What do you want to attract in your
professional and personal life? What
do you want to be known for in your
I have posed these questions to a
dozen or so highly successful profes-
sionals in the technical arena that I
have had the good fortune of interacting
Without fail, everyone mentioned
high expectations about their future;
and the majority, being at a mid-life
point, is looking for deeper philosophical
answers to the profound question:
"What's next for me?" in planning the
Questions to explore:
• What does it mean to lead a good
• To be happy, what should I be doing
that I am not doing now? And what
am I doing now that I should stop
• How can I create the opportunity
to be happy for the people who work
• How should I begin to develop self-
discipline, so that I can focus on what
will make me happy in the long term?
• What is personal excellence, and
how do I achieve it?
cialised career, and, at the same time,
a well-rounded person with a wide
range of interests and knowledge?
• To what extent does my personal
happiness entail a relationship with the
community of others?
To live one's life to its full potential,
in accordance to the Aristotelian pre-
cepts, requires emotional and intellec-
tual self-rigor. It also requires the ability
to have high expectations of oneself,
expectations that one would succeed
at what might appear to be a lofty
If the possibility of generating creative
and fulfilling experiences that fill our
hearts and minds does not seem real
and feasible, then we need to question
the underlying assumptions that get
us to see what we see, and dispute
these assumptions; acting as our own
What are the higher steps you need
to climb to unlock your full potential?
What are the "buts" that you need to
eliminate from your vocabulary in order
to break through to new levels of per-
What mindsets might you need to
change to stay ahead of the curve?
Charles M Schwab put it aptly:
"None of us is born with a stop-valve
on his powers or with a set limit to his
capacities. There's no limit possible to
the expansion of each one of us."
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