Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Managing Expectations:

Expectations are the bane of human interaction, a facet of interpersonal interface that is unavoidable yet a source of recurring agony to all concerned. Expectation, per se, is not something to be scorned; it is unmanaged expectations that are the thorns in the flesh. What do I mean? I intend to address that in just a moment. I hope that by the end of this post, we will all share a common understanding of what managing expectations mean. Now, how to do it warrants its own post, something that I intend to deal with later. (Managing your expectations with this sentenceJ)

The dictionary definition of expectation is: The state or mental attitude of expecting something to happen; or Supposition with regard to the present or the past. Now as may be inferred from above, an expectation is a state of the mind, a mental attitude. This definition makes expectation look like an innocuous feeling, something as harmless as a baby, but beware, it is a baby alright but also may be a baby cobra. Let me explain. In any relationship there is a process of give and take. There are always two parties to it, one that hopes to receive something, aka the customer, and the person from whom the expectation lies, aka the seller. Now the thing desired may be material, like a good or service in lieu of monetary compensation, or it may be spiritual, emotional or in other words, non-material.

The buyer always has some expectations from the seller. To give an analogy from the material side of things, the organization that you happen to work for has some expectations from you as an employee in return for the salary that it pays you. The company here is the buyer of your services, and you are the seller. Now, it is the seller's responsibility to ensure that he under-promise and over-delivers rather than the other way round. He must be able to manage the expectations such that the buyer, the employer, does not set unrealistic goals for him to achieve, those that cannot be achieved and the failure at which causes the employee to look like someone who does not perform at all. The fact is that the employee is not performing to the employer's expectations and only the employee is to be blamed for that. It is his failure to manage the expectations. For example, he might have committed to complete the said task in a time frame that was an unrealistic, off the cuff estimate. Be careful when promising.

This has even more implications and relevance to the management of relationships. The failure of any relationship, marriage, friendship, and so forth, all have the basic cause of failing to do something that the other person involved expects. Again the same word, expect. The expectation of time spent together, support, love, respect and so forth from the other person is a natural feeling. Now the expectations, if not fulfilled, cause the people to drift apart. If each party involved in the relationship learns to make it clear to the other party, what and how much can be readily spared, nothing like it. Easier said than done, though.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A great essay by Albert Einstein -The world as I see it

Needless to say, I cannot find a word that I do not agree with or even have second thoughts about. Here it goes:

"How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people --first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving...

"I have never looked upon ease and happiness as ends in themselves -- this critical basis I call the ideal of a pigsty. The ideals that have lighted my way, and time after time have given me new courage to face life cheerfully, have been Kindness, Beauty, and Truth. Without the sense of kinship with men of like mind, without the occupation with the objective world, the eternally unattainable in the field of art and scientific endeavors, life would have seemed empty to me. The trite objects of human efforts -- possessions, outward success, luxury -- have always seemed to me contemptible.

"My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a 'lone traveler' and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude..."

"My political ideal is democracy. Let every man be respected as an individual and no man idolized. It is an irony of fate that I myself have been the recipient of excessive admiration and reverence from my fellow-beings, through no fault, and no merit, of my own. The cause of this may well be the desire, unattainable for many, to understand the few ideas to which I have with my feeble powers attained through ceaseless struggle. I am quite aware that for any organization to reach its goals, one man must do the thinking and directing and generally bear the responsibility. But the led must not be coerced, they must be able to choose their leader. In my opinion, an autocratic system of coercion soon degenerates; force attracts men of low morality... The really valuable thing in the pageant of human life seems to me not the political state, but the creative, sentient individual, the personality; it alone creates the noble and the sublime, while the herd as such remains dull in thought and dull in feeling.

"This topic brings me to that worst outcrop of herd life, the military system, which I abhor... This plague-spot of civilization ought to be abolished with all possible speed. Heroism on command, senseless violence, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism -- how passionately I hate them!

"The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery -- even if mixed with fear -- that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man... I am satisfied with the mystery of life's eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence -- as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature."