Tuesday, October 28, 2008


The word came up several times over this past weekend and the short part of this week. I had a profound conversation about expectations with mom during her visit to the Chicken Friend Nation from El Paso, and the thought sorta became an issue when I read an article in The Wall Street Journal about Warren Buffet. The title read, "Even the Oracle Didn't Time It Perfectly."

The article does not trash Mr. Buffet -- totally --, but it does make an attempt to find fault in his hugely successful and well-documented investment shrewdness. If anyone deserves a "mulligan" as far as public investment decisions are concerned, he does. It's no wonder he just recently allowed anyone to write about his personal life (The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life), a book I hope to own soon.

That's the way it works, though. Expectations are a great tool for motivation and personal success, but at the same time, they seem to be the measuring stick people use to find fault. If you have always achieved others' perceived expectations (especially if they are high), God forbid you ever fall. If you do, you will fall hard.

The word also came up in conversation with my brother. Days after the Cowboys loss to Arizona, he finally admitted the reason he was so upset: his expectations for the 2008 Cowboys were very, very high. So, the slipping of their superb season crashed down hard. "It felt like a steel beam hitting the concrete from 20 stories up!" he said.

The idea circles in my head often, as I've been able to keep my nose clean my 35.5 years. I've done my best to do what is expected of me. So have my siblings and that brings a lot of undue pressure.

Is it worth it? Is it worth your time and energy to ALWAYS meet others' expectations for you?

According to a man I met recently, who was married to his wife for 72 years (yes, 72) before she died, NO.

I asked him directly, "Sir, how do you stay married for an age that is twice my life? To me, a man living in the post-Baby Boom Generation, 5 years is unheard, let alone 72!"

I love to listen to people who have lived well beyond the three score and ten. This man, was nearing 90 and very articulate. He didn't even pause to tell me his philosophy about, not only expectations, but how he managed a 72-year marriage.

The first thing he said is, "Do you know Roger Staubach?"

"Of course!" I said.

"Roger the Dodger said once of his comparison to the great Joe Namath (understand it's not an exact quote), 'I like to have sex just as much as Joe. I just have it with one woman instead of many.' That's your first lesson. Second, if you don't remember anything else about this conversation, remember this: Ignoring others' expectations was our biggest motivation for our determination. Think about that one for a while."

About 600 people attended his wife's funeral. It goes without saying this man and his wife had many, many people who were fond of them. It was a breath of fresh air to know that in spite of him ignoring other's expectations, life was long and prosperous.

It's hard to do, especially when you're on the giving end of expecting. It's hard when those you rely on fail. It's hard when your heroes don't produce, but the only thing they can do -- and should do -- is wake up the next day and like ourselves, try again.

Truly, that is all we can expect.

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