Monday, July 06, 2009

Unmet Expectations

There is a saying that the benefit derived from an endeavor will be proportional to the amount of energy or effort that one puts into the endeavor. That saying is applied to life itself, to relationships, to business enterprises, to learning opportunities… You name it.

I have no argument with that saying, except that it rather encourages a focus on the benefit to be derived. It sort of fosters a “what’s in this for me” way of thinking, albeit counterbalanced by a sense of responsibility to produce the effort required to garner the desired benefit.

Still, there is the Prayer of Saint Francis approach to life that leads to a peacefulness of a life free of unmet expectations. When one is focused not on the benefit to be derived from an endeavor, but rather on the reward of being able to contribute to that endeavor, then the endeavor itself becomes the reward, not by what it contributes to me, but simply by its existence. As such it cannot “let me down” because I am not measuring its delivery, I am but recognizing its being. I derive my reward simply by being a part of that endeavor.

Certainly when I practice my profession I derive from that an income which is my sustenance, the payment which provides for my needs. That is a reasonable and necessary expectation, and few professions fail to provide for that. What a profession may fail to provide is for “wants” which masquerade as “needs;” a better car, a new house, more or fancier clothing.

When I focus on the practice of my profession in terms of what I can contribute to it then my needs will be met and I will be at peace. When I focus on what my profession is giving to me I am at great risk of confusing wants and needs, of creating expectations that remain unmet and disrupting my sense of peace.

And the only thing that changed was the direction of my focus.

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