Three Dimensions of Expectation

In this week’s episode, John Maxwell shares the three dimensions of expectation: expectations that we have of ourselves, that we have of others, and that others have of us. More often than not, you won’t get what you don’t expect. That’s why leaders need to set high and realistic expectations for themselves and others.

For the application portion of the episode, Mark Cole and Jason Brooks discuss the expectations they set for themselves and the importance of exceeding––not just meeting––the expectations others place on them.

Our BONUS resource for this episode is the Three Dimensions of Expectation Worksheet, which includes fill-in-the-blank notes from John’s teaching. You can download the worksheet by clicking “Download the Bonus Resource” below.


Mark Cole:       Hey, welcome again to the John Maxwell Leadership podcast. I was talking with Jason and Jake today in studio and I want to remind you that our podcast listeners, our goal, our desire is to always be adding value to you. In fact, that is our top value, to value people. We're people of value that want to value people. We value you. We hope that we add value to you. In fact, I would love to get comments from you. If you go to, you will be able to leave us a comment and tell us what we are doing right, in fact some of you may have a list of things we should be doing better and maybe should stop doing all together. Our goal is to add value to you. That's why today's lesson is so important. Some time ago, John was giving a small lesson to a group of people over the phone. As I heard this lesson, the audio wasn't great, it wasn't John in studio like it is a lot of times when we come to the podcast but the lessons and the way he talked about the dimensions of expectation, I just knew that I knew that we needed to bring this to you on the Maxwell Leadership podcast.

You're getting ready to listen to John, you're getting ready to listen into a conversation that John is having with some leaders about expectations. If you'd like to print out the notes and follow along as usual, go to You'll be able to click on the bonus resource button and there you'll find the worksheet and you'll be able to follow along. Now, today I'm joined with Jason Brooks, you know Jason. We all love Jason. Jason is our executive vice president of content. Jason and I, once John is done teaching, we're going to take a few minutes and we're going to break down how we apply the three dimensions of expectations within the John Maxwell enterprise. Without further ado, here is John Maxwell.

John Maxwell:  Tonight, I want to talk to you about expectations because as leaders we have expectations for ourselves and our people. We set expectations for our people. It's a great subject. I went back, as I started this session, I went back to my first book I wrote on these things back in 1979. I wrote a chapter entitled, Has Your Expector Expired? In that chapter I tell kind of a corny cute story about a kid that was finished at a pond. On the other side of that little pond was an elderly man who was also fishing. But he noticed that the kid, when he would catch a fish, he would pull it in, look at it very carefully, put his hand up aside the fish. You could tell he was measuring the fish. What was most interesting is the kid would, if the fish was a fairly good size, would throw it back in the water. Then sometimes he'd catch a fish, it was a smaller one, he'd measure it and he'd keep it. Of course, the elderly gentleman had never seen somebody do that. He slowly went around the pond until he got over there where the kid was.

When he got there, he looked at him and he said, "I noticed that you're keeping the small fish and you're throwing the big ones back. I've never seen anyone do that, why are you doing that?" The little kid looked at him so seriously, "That's very easy" he said, "I can't keep the big ones, I only have a 10 inch frying pan." When I think about that, I think of a lot of leaders who can't keep the big ones either. They can't keep the big ones because they have mentally, maybe leadership wise, maybe capacity wise, all they got is a 10 inch frying pan. What I do know is this. The size of our expectation determines what we keep. It also probably determines who we attract. There's a lot to say about a leader and his or her expectations and how those expectations determine where we go, what we do, how we do what we do, how we accomplish what we accomplish. Somebody asked me recently in a Q&A to define a tired leader. I said a tired leader is someone who has either lessened his expectations or lost his expectations.

You know you're tired when you're dumbing down your vision and with that comes the dumbing down of energy and time and commitment and everything else. That's a leader who is tired and has kind of lost the vision. I know a lot of people, that's exactly what happened to them in leadership. They didn't do well and didn't reach their standard or their expectations. They kind of settled in. That bothered them in the beginning but after a while it didn't even bother then anymore. They just kind of quote, settled in. I talk a lot sometimes about the farming analogy about the banker who had loaned money to basically determine whether the farmer said if he was fencing in or fencing out. If he was fencing in, what that meant is that he was trying to conserve what he had and he wasn't going to expand and didn't have much real future or much outlook that was positive for tomorrow. If the farmer would tell the banker he was fencing in, he wouldn't get the loan. If the farmer would say he was fencing out, which meant he was expanding, bought more acreage, going to get some more cattle, had better expectations if he was fencing out, then of course he was going to get the loan.

In your expectations, in my expectations, the question I have for both of us tonight is this, are we fencing in or are we fencing out? I think we have to really come to grips with the fact that we set the bar as leaders, you and I do. The followers don't set the bar, we do. We do get what we expect out of ourselves and out of others. Let's kind of talk about leadership expectations. I want to talk to you about it in three different dimensions because there are three different dimensions of leadership expectations. Number one is the expectations that we have of ourselves. I start with the expectations that we have of ourselves because that's where I should start. This should be our first expectation, this should be our highest expectation. We ought to always go to us. Before I look at others, before I look at what I want to accomplish, I've got to look at me. You've heard me say the greatest leadership challenge I have in life is leading me, always has been, always will be. I'm sure you're going to find the same for you.

When I think of somebody who really has had a sense of having the right expectation of himself, I think of a man I was privileged to have mentor me for a few years and that was John Wooden. I remember well, it happened to my birthday February the 20th, 2003. I'm up in his area in Los Angeles and we're at his favorite restaurant sitting at the booth where he always sat at. We're talking and all of a sudden he reaches in his back pocket, he pulls out his wallet and out of his wallet he pulls this piece of paper. He said, "John" he said, "This is very important to me." I said, "Well, what is it Coach?" He said, "This is the creed that my father gave me when I was 12 years old." He said, "This is what he put in my hands and said to me that if I would follow this, my life would be successful, that I would do well." Then he made a startling statement to me. He said, "Every day I read that creed. I read it and I try to live up to it."

If he got it when he was 12, he happened to be 92 when he was telling me that story. Coach Wooden was telling me for 80 years he would look at this piece of paper. He had it all kind of scotch taped up. It was very worn, very worn. In fact, he reached across the table and said, "Here, do you want to look at it for a moment?" I held it very preciously in my hand. I realized, again, that this was probably the bar that was set for Coach by his father that he tried to reach every day. The paper read, making the most of oneself. Beneath that title, making the most of oneself, were six very short thoughts. Number one, be true to yourself. Number two, make every day your masterpiece. Three, help others. Four, drink deeply from good books. Number five, make friendship of fine art. Number six, build shelter against a rainy day. There it is. Coach is looking at me and saying, "John, that is what I do to make sure that I do the right thing and follow my father's advice."

I looked at Coach that day, this man who writes Sports Illustrated, who was named the greatest coach of any sport in the 20th century. I looked at Coach across the lunch table that day and I thought to myself, here's what I want you to hear, John Wooden achieved personal victories before he ever led his team to victory. He learned to win with himself before he learned to win with his team. He learned to lead himself before he learned to lead his team. He placed the right expectations on himself. He started with himself. He realized that all of his credibility as a leader would be the result of him leading himself well and having high expectations of himself. I discovered a long time ago that when your words outmatch your deeds, you lose credibility. You just do. When my talk is better than my walk, I lose credibility but when my walk or my deeds outmatch my talk, that I gain huge credibility. I would just say to all of us that our leadership credibility is based on ourselves and what we're doing now to grow, to learn, to improve ourselves, to set our bar high.

I would say to all of us that we have to quit living off of yesterday. If I'm leaning off of yesterday, if I'm teaching off of yesterday, if I'm expecting you to follow me because of yesterday, I'm in trouble. I'm in trouble. The expectation I set of myself is that I'm going to do the right thing and you'll follow in the right way. I have two application questions for us this evening. One is do I have higher expectations of myself than of others? I would expect every one of you to say a resounding, "Yes, I do. I expect more out of me than I expect out of anyone else." Question number two is, do I have credibility and moral authority? I think the new authority is not positional authority and leadership, I think it's moral authority which basically this is authority that's given because what I say, I do. I'm an example for other people to follow.

I can still remember at the age of 25, me making the very important decision that really is all about the subject I'm talking about tonight and that is that at age 25 I just basically said I'm never going to teach what I don't believe. I'm just not going to do it. What that meant was, as a young leader, a young pastor, there were a lot of things I didn't teach because either I didn't believe and just maybe it was some kind of pet doctrine in my denomination or perhaps maybe I didn't live it. I've had times when I couldn't teach because I wasn't living what I would want the people to do. It reminds me of the lady who took her little boy to Gandhi in India and said, "I want you to tell my boy that sugar is not good for him." Gandhi said, "Bring him back next week and I'll talk to him next week." The next week, she brought him back and Gandhi told the little boy sugar wasn't good for him. The lady looked at Gandhi, pulled him aside and said, "Why couldn't you have said that to my son last week?" Gandhi said, "Because I was eating sugar. I had to have a week off before I could give him that kind of advice."

I think the expectation we have of ourselves is paramount. All of our leadership flows from the fact that we lead ourselves well, first. But secondly there's the expectation that we have of others. As leaders, obviously, we not only expect ourselves to be a model for leadership but we certainly have expectations of our people. I would say three quick things about those expectations we have of our people. Number one is our expectations must be clear. But the second point on expectations I really want to just spend a little bit of time on and that is our expectations determine our effort. In other words, what I expect in here will determine the effort I give to you. It's just a fact. If I look at you and I don't have high expectations of who you are, what you can do [inaudible 00:14:05] I'd say, "Oh I think they're below average. I think they're a three." Guess what effort I'll give to a person I have a three expectation of? I'll give a three. I'll give the effort to match my expectation. I think that's huge for us because I think people need our best effort.

One thing I'm very conscious of when I lead, whether it's any of the companies I lead or whether I go speak or when I was reading my manuscript of the book today I was very, very conscious again that I have to give it my best effort. I would feel, for sure, I was cheating you. I come ready to teach you, I come ready to do my best to answer your questions, I do my best to pour into you, you deserve my best. Our expectations, as we look at our people or we look at what we're trying to accomplish, determine what our efforts will be. Back in the Industrial Age of America, Andrew Carnegie was the richest man in our country. He came from Scotland but he became wealthy because he built the largest steel manufacturing company in the United States. At one time, he had 43 millionaires that were working for him. I know you think that's not that big of a deal, a millionaire. Some of you are millionaires. But the fact that it was a big deal. Back when he was leading and had 43 millionaires, a millionaire that day would be worth $20 million today.

He had 43 people that were worth at least $20 million today. A reporter came to Carnegie and asked him, "How did you 43 millionaires?" Carnegie responded, "They weren't millionaires when I hired them." He said, "I made them. They became millionaires as they worked with me and as they worked from our organization." The reporter kind of followed that question up with the next one, which was basically, "How did you develop these men to become so valuable that you would pay them that kind of money. Wow, they've created a lot of value for themselves, you helped create value in them. How did you do that?" Here's what I want you to hear. Carnegie then replied to the reporter that men are to be developed the same way that gold is to be mined. He said, "When gold is mined, several tons of dirt must be moved to get an ounce of gold. But you don't go into the mine looking for dirt, you're not a dirt miner. You go into the mine looking for gold. What you understand is you've got to move tons of dirt to get an ounce of gold."

When people talk to me about giving my best to people, it's truly my expectations are very simple. When I go and mine for people, I realize I've got a lot of dirt to move. Tons of dirt. Your whole effort of pouring into people sounds something like this. Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, oh my goodness. There's a little gold. Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt. A little piece of gold. Dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt. I'm here to tell you, whenever you think of somebody developing people, there's a whole bunch of dirt in between that gold. I hear all the time leaders who kind of moan and groan and complain. They said, "Well, there ought to be a short cut. It ought to be easier." It's not easier. There's no shortcut. There's nothing easy or short-cutty about this. It's just dirt, dirt, dirt, dirt.

Somebody said, "Are you a dirt miner?" No, I'm a gold miner but I've got to get through the dirt to get to the gold. If you don't go through the dirt in your business, if you don't go through the dirt in your hiring, if you don't go through the dirt with people, you're just not going to get gold. Gold doesn't reveal itself. You don't open up the mine and there's the pot of gold. There's tons of dirt. If dirt discourages you, you'll never get the gold. You'll never get the gold. If there's something discouraging about dirt, trust me as a leader, you'll just never get to that gold. Our expectations, what's our expectation? That there's gold in that mine, of course. It determines our effort. We are willing to get through the dirt because we know there's gold there.

Number three, our expectations determine the response of others. In other words, what I expect in you, from you is going to determine what you give to me. Again, if my expectation of you is very low and I don't see you as a person that's a player and probably figure you're a little bit more of a pretender that I don't think you're going to give a great return, if I put the number three on your head, you're going to respond to me like a three. But what I do know is this. If I put a high number on your head, I mean I put a high number on your head. I put a 10 on your head. That's going to totally change your behavior because people want to validate the belief that you have in them. They really do. If you looked at me and you said, "John, I'm a 10." Can I tell you something? I would do nothing to support you. I kind of amusingly laugh when I go speak at conventions and the introductions that I get sometimes are a little bit out of place and a little bit exaggerated. I'm sure sometimes [inaudible 00:19:57] talking about it. At that introduction I'm saying, "Whose he talking about? I thought John was going to speak today."

But here's what I know. When I go to speak for a convention and the leaders who have put a lot of time, effort, energy, hope, dreams, prayer, money into that convention look at me and they said, "We're so glad you're here. We know you're going to get a home run for us. We know you're going to absolutely deliver big time. We're so glad that you're going to be the keynote today." I can promise you, all those things that they say about me that are good, positive. All that expectation, do you know what that does to me? It just makes me literally say, "I've got to get good. I cannot let these people down." You don't want to let people down that believe in you. Think about it. Think of your behavior around people that believe in you versus your behavior around people that don't believe in you.

When you look at the history of the United States in military, we have had no greater general, I'm sure, in any of our wars than General Douglas MacArthur. He was in France during World War I and the United States had to do a major offensive move in battle the next morning. He privately went to the major who would be leading that battalion and said, "I want you to know that when the signal goes up for you to charge" he said, "I want you to lead the way. I want you to go first." He said, "If you go first the men will follow. I want you to be the example." Those were just great, encouraging, challenging words setting the bar high from a general, a leader to a major. But then what made General MacArthur so great is what he did next. He literally removed his own distinguished service cross medal that he had on his own uniform. That medal that was awarded to him for heroism, such a high medal. He took it off of his uniform and he pinned the major that was going to lead the battalion, lead the way the next morning, he put that medal on the major and said, "It's yours. Now go out and lead with my expectations and with this medal on your chest."

The major did and they had a great victory that next day. I thought, what a beautiful picture of a leader really showing expectation high. Not only exhorting him and casting vision but then saying, "Here, this is my personal distinguished cross medal. I want you to have it. It's yours. You are worthy of it. Now, go live up to the medal. Go live up to my expectations." Our leadership expectations, the three dimensions, is the expectation we have of ourselves, the expectation we have of others and thirdly the expectations others have of us. Make no mistake about it, the people that follow us, that we lead, they have major expectations of us as a leader. You've heard me talk about the three questions that followers ask of leaders. Do you love me? Can you help me? Can I trust you? Sure enough, those followers, they're asking questions of us. They have expectations of us.

I would say to you and to me as leaders, we need to do three things. Number one, we need to love them. The least that anyone should expect of their leader is that you care for them. We need to love them. Number two, we need to lead them. They cannot lead themselves. If they could lead themselves, they wouldn't need you. They wouldn't need me. We have to be courageous men and women. We've got to step out. We've got to have courage. We've got to truly lead them. Number three, we have to listen. We have to listen to a higher level. We've got to make them better than what they really are. We've got to let them know if they follow us, we're going to take them to higher ground. That's what leaders do. Leaders take the people to higher ground, always have, always will. We've got to love them, we've got to lead them and we've got to listen. We've got to do those three things.

Sometimes, if we have time, I would like to talk to you about the leadership weight that I think all leaders feel. When we think of expectations that others have of us, the leadership weight that I think we carry as leaders is meeting those expectations others have of us. I know that's a weight I always feel and sometimes that weight gets pretty heavy. Sometimes we allow people to put expectations on us that we shouldn't. That's a weight that's not even a legitimate weight, that many times we get every day and we realize that people are waiting for us to make good decisions, they're waiting for us to be courageous. It's a weight that I think all of us feel.

There is a load that a leader carries and there are times, man there are times when I get up in the morning and I think I'd love to be a follower today. I'd love to have no leadership responsibilities. I'd love to get up when I want to get up, do what I want to do, have nobody waiting on me, nobody looking for any kind of leadership, nobody have any expectations of me. I do know that would last about two days and I'd be bored. I'd say, "Okay, give me some more leadership weight. I don't even know how to live without lifting that load." But there is a leadership weight because of the expectations that others have of us.

Jason Brooks:   Man, Mark, what a fantastic lesson. I love the way that John laid out the three dimensions of expectations. The expectations that we have of ourselves, expectations we have of others and the expectations that others have of us. There was this statement that John made in the middle of the lesson. He said a tired leader is one who has lessened or lost their expectations. It made me reflect immediately on the fact that one of the John Maxwell enterprise values that we have is performance. Basically the way we say it is that exceeding expectations sets us apart from others. I kind of wanted to just take the conversation today because John did such a great job of laying out the dimensions of expectations, he did a great job of giving you some practical stuff to take away. I wanted to take this conversation through the prism of our value of performance, our value of exceeding expectations. I kind of wanted to ask you each of the three dimensions and how you set expectations and then how do we exceed them. The first question is how do you, Mark, as the CEO of the enterprise, set expectations for yourself and how do you ensure that you exceed them?

Mark Cole:       I love the way you set this up, Jason and I'm really looking forward to debriefing with you on how we do this. Let me say a couple of things about this idea, this concept of expectations. The first thing that I'll say is Jake was sharing with you and I, Jason, before we started recording, he loves to go in and find some relevant quotes to bring to us to set context of what John is sharing in a given lesson. Sometimes we share those quotes, sometimes we don't but we always appreciate the pre-work that Jake, our producer does. He did find this one quote by Charles Kettering, which I love. It says, "High achievement always takes place in the frame of high expectations." I know there's some people that you in this podcast world, our family, you have lived with people, you have been around people that their expectations almost, in fact some of you it wasn't almost, it was over a line. You were controlled. It was a controlling person. John Maxwell has super high expectations. I've seen a lot of people not be able to step up to those expectations.

I, myself, back to your question, Jason, man I put so strenuous and high expectations on myself. I'm watching my mom who is now 91 and my daughter, who is 14. I'm seeing that high expectations that we expect within ourself is a generational, sometimes curse. It's a curse sometimes, the high expectations. But you know, I have also believed that I would rather set an expectation that is so high that in the pursuit of that expectation I achieved more than I ever thought possible even though I came short of the expectation, I would rather do that than to have expectations that I hit every time. I leave talent, ability, opportunity on the table. When life is done in Mark Cole's world, I hope that I have left it all on the line. I hope I've left it all out there. I think that's a real important part, Jason.

The second thing, that was a long one thing but the second thing I want to say about expectations is this. I've met too many people that were frustrated, underwhelmed with their life, not fulfilled. That it all came back to the fact that they did not set expectations. I tell our team all the time, Jason, you've heard me say this. You cannot exceed expectations if you have not set expectations. Listen to this, we want to exceed expectations. Doesn't that sound maybe that's the first time you've ever heard that and I'm kidding. Everybody wants to exceed expectations. We exceed expectations. How many people have used that in their marketing slogans? I've seen too many people say we've exceeded expectations and they never set expectations. They never know that they have exceeded expectations. My biggest thing that I want all of you to take away as we talk about these three dimensions is you've got to set expectations all the time in every area. Be clear on what is expected of you.

Now, Jason, back to your question. How do I set expectations for myself? How do I exceed expectations? Those of you who are common listeners or frequent listeners to the podcast you know, every year I do a year end review and I set the course for the next year in my personal life. I have five key pillars that hold up the person Mark Cole. I won't go into those today, listen to a previous podcast, you might be able to pick these up throughout many of our podcasts. But in every area that I have deemed through the years, every bucket, every pillar that's important to my life in being a successful leader from the inside out, I have clear expectations on those five areas.

In fact, in all five areas Jason, I have three sub-areas. There are 15 areas that, for the last 17 years, I have had clear expectations for my life in that given year. Some years I exceed it, some years I don't attempt it, other years it's repetitive from the last one to two years of expectation in that area. But make no mistake, I have clear expectations of those areas in my life every single year. In my leadership, leading you, Jason, I have very clear expectations so that I can know if I am meeting, beating or need to repeat those expectations.

Jason Brooks:   That's a helpful answer and I love the context that you set it up with because I think for a lot of people, expectations is a dirty word. That's because more emphasis is placed on the result than on the effort and the growth. People set the bar lower where they know they can produce results instead of setting the bar higher where they might be able to produce something even better. I love the way that you set that up. I'm impressed that you have basically 15 dimensions that you can measure yourself against to know whether or not you are meeting expectations or exceeding them. That's impressive. I've got maybe two or three things that I measure against. I've got to up my game, that's for sure. I feel like I could probably answer this question for you because I am under your leadership but I'd love to hear you explain this for our listeners. How do you set expectations for others whether it's at work, at home, in the community? How do you set them up to exceed those expectations?

Mark Cole:       Here's what I love. One day, Jason, Jake, we'll have to do a podcast about how to have effective meetings. I do some teaching every week to our John Maxwell team tribe that's around the world. I love talking about meetings and how to have an effective meeting that exceeds the expectations of those meetings. I'm going to share that right now in relation to expectations of others. I start every meeting with a [inaudible 00:34:24]. I've been doing this for about four years now. That is before I start a meeting, I calculate what the meeting is costing the company. I see you nodding and smiling on Zoom here because you know I do this. Many meetings I start out saying, "Okay guys, just so you know, this meeting is going to cost us $17,000. Not of lost opportunity because of meeting but of hard cost because I'm pulling you away from other things that does produce revenue and asking you to come to this meeting. Let's be really prudent in this meeting to get a return on the cost of this meeting." It's setting expectations. This meeting is costing us, let's make sure we return an investment on the cost of this meeting.

The second thing that I'll do in meetings, this is whether we're meeting with our publishers, whether we're meeting with attorneys, I make sure that Kimberly, my executive partner, she has a set agenda for every meeting. We don't have meetings if we don't prove the meeting is needed. Anybody shoot me or Kim an email asking for a meeting, be prepared for the question why? Not because I don't love you but as John Maxwell says, you don't have to earn my love, you do have to earn my time. You're going to earn my time with a clear agenda. Every meeting should start with a clear agenda. I promise you I'm going to expectations of others with this illustration.

The second thing I do with a meeting is I find out who is in the room and why are they in the room. I want everybody to know who else is in the room and why their participation in this meeting is important. It's all about expectations. If they know and I know why they're in the meeting, we will both have a greater propensity to step up to the expectations of why they're in the meeting and that they're in the meeting. The third thing that we have to really have in every meeting is what are we trying to accomplish with this meeting. What is the desired outcome? Before we ever start the meeting, we have to know how we want to finish the meeting. Begin with the end in mind. We always have to know what are the expectations at the end of our time together.

The final thing that we have to do, which is a part A and a part B is what is next and who owns what's next? In other words, we don't have a meeting to have a meeting, boom, we checked it off the list. We had the meeting. No, no, we had the meeting so that X could happen. We always know what X is. This is what is next because we had this meeting and this is whose responsibility X is. Now, let me transition that. We could talk a lot more about it. Expectations of others. You've got to give people clear expectations of what you desire of them before you give them something to do, before you assign them a responsibility. What are the expectations, when do you expect that to be delivered, what will the result be of a delivered, on time expectation? That clarity, it is leadership malpractice if you don't have clear expectations for the people that work around you, that work for you, that work on the same project as you.

You've got to be clear but it's not just about clarity, it's about agreement. We agree that this is the expectations. Now, how do you help them exceed? I believe empowerment and resources is how you help another human being exceed expectations. If the expectations are clear, if they have adequate resources and if they have true empowerment, I have found that people will exceed their own imagination, their own expectation and your expectation more often than not.

Jason Brooks:   I love that one because I have sat under your leadership and I'm doing some math here real quick because I had this thought. Nothing keeps you focused like somebody saying, "Hey, it's costing us $17,000 for us to be in this room for eight hours." That's roughly $2,000 an hour which translates out to about $33 a minute. Nothing keeps you focused quite like thinking if it takes me three minutes to eat a brownie, that's $180 bucks going down the drain. If step over here and check Twitter for five minutes, that's another whole lot of money going down the drain. It does help you stay focused.

I do, as somebody that follows you and somebody, Jake is on the line listening to us, Jake reports to me. I have to be really clear. I trust Jake a lot, there's a lot of things that I leave up to Jake's discretion, but I still have to set expectations with him of this is what we're looking for, this is the quality that we need. This is what I expect for you to be able to get done. Hopefully I'm doing it as well as you are. Thank the Lord we don't give Jake a microphone, otherwise he could chime in here. But I try and translate what you do for me down to what I do for Jake, even if it looks a little bit differently. I try and give him enough latitude and empowerment that he can exceed my expectations. He always, always does. He does it because he knows what's expected but hopefully also because he's got the room to be able to innovate and do the things that will exceed those expectations.

The final question, I'm curious about this one because you talked about the generational propensity for having high expectations. People who often have high expectations of themselves can have a tendency to turn around and really allow the expectations of others to take a high place or assume a high value or a high priority or a high weight as John was talking about at the end of the lesson there. How do you exceed the expectation that others have of you and how do you know if you're successful at that?

Mark Cole:       I literally could take 30 minutes, Jason, and break this out with you. I could. We won't Jake, I saw you just kind of look at me like deer in the headlights. We won't do that 30 minutes but I could because this one is the most important one in my opinion. In a team environment, let me talk specifically about mine and John Maxwell's relationship not only for the last 20 years but most specifically about the last 10 years when he asked me to be his CEO. I'll never forget when we had the conversation, October of 2010. He said, "Hey, I think I want you to be the CEO." I'd been doing some managing of his business affairs up to that point but we were getting ready to start a new business venture. He was going to let me be part owner with him. He said, "I want you to be the CEO."

I said, "John, let me be really clear. My calling is availability and proximity to you. My calling is not to be a CEO of a company. I didn't wake up early in life and go, 'I want to lead companies.' But I've been very clear that I want to be available and approximate to you. If I become CEO, we're going to have to do it differently. I am going to have to travel around the world and be a CEO from the road. What that means is the travel budget, my travel expenses are going to be higher than most CEOs. What that means is that my team is going to have to realize that I may step out of meetings when you call, I'm not going to be a traditional CEO." We really had this conversation because I don't mind being the CEO but I do mind violating the calling and the sense of clarity in my purpose in life.

We had to have a clarity conversation around expectations. Now, I could give you literally three dozen, four dozen similar conversations to where John and I had very clear, sometimes very long multi-faceted, multi-day conversations about expectations between the two of us. In fact, there's a resource out there, I can't tell you offhandedly how to get it right now but we did a talk one time about running well together. In that talk about how we were running in the relay race together, the whole thesis of that was how he sat down and gave me 10 things he needed from me and I gave him 9 things I needed from him for us to run well together. It's all about setting up expectations of others. How John has an expectation of me. It's an art. It's an art to work with and for someone or on a team and press and determine and discipline yourself to get clear expectations. But I'm going to tell you, if you don't there's no way you will consistently exceed expectations.

Now to your question. How have I exceeded expectations or lived up to expectations by someone that has those expectations of me? Whether it's John, Jason, whether it is you. I get really clear on what people are expecting from my role, from my leadership or from my followership, as in John. Get really, really clear. Then here is the mic drop moment, right here. This is the best I've got for this topic on this subject in this podcast. Never let someone have higher expectations of you than you have of yourself. Never. Once I beat it up, talk about it, multi-meetings, get it nailed down I always, in the back of my mind, say, "Are they expecting more of me than I can deliver?" The only way I can answer that is by asking myself, "Can I give more than they're asking? Can I do more than they're asking? Can I step up more than they're asking?"

Jason, I have lived my life, this may come from my 91-year-old mother, 91 year young, she'll kill me if she hears me say year old, my 91-year-young mother, perhaps it comes from her. Perhaps it comes from her dad. But I have always lived to say, "I will get clarity of your expectations of me. Before I agree to those expectations you have of me, I will do a self-analysis to make sure that I can exceed them because my expectations of myself will always be higher than your expectations of me. If I can't agree that my expectations can be higher than someone else's expectations of me, we don't have an agreement." Expectations others have on us needs to be clear, they need to be agreeable and then you and I need to make sure that our expectations of ourself is higher than those of the people around us.

Jason Brooks:   It doesn't get any more clear and practical and helpful than that. Between what John offered in his teaching and the way Mark has broken down these three simple questions here during our time together, your note page should be absolutely filled with takeaways, notes, things that you need to work on. If you didn't visit and click on the bonus resource button to download the show notes, then you need to go back and do that right now. Again, you need to visit and click on the bonus resource button to download the show notes because you are getting and you have gotten some of the most practical, helpful, insightful and honest information about how to not only set expectations for yourself, set expectations for others and meet or exceed the expectations that others have of you, you've also gotten really powerful teaching on how you can exceed those expectations, to lift the lid on your leadership and to keep becoming the person that you were meant to be.

Mark, it's been an absolute privilege to be on this podcast with you, my friend. Great work today and I will give it back to you to close us out.

Mark Cole:       Go back to Charles Kettering's quote. "High achievement always takes place in the framework of high expectations." My challenge to you and I, Jason, and to our podcast family is on these three dimensions of expectations, are you clear? Do you agree? Can you exceed them? If you can discipline yourself anytime expectations are set to answer those three questions, you are well on your way. Hey, the world really needs us to lead. We're in a time right now that people centric values based servant leadership is needed more now than ever. I'm just challenging you, I'm challenging myself. Put that expectation on us. Let's lead like that. Let's make a difference and let's continue to grow together in this podcast. Thanks for listening, until we meet next week let's lead.

3 thoughts on “Three Dimensions of Expectation”

  1. Thank you for your podcasts and books – i have just recently been appointed to a Manager’s position and have 15 people that report to me and look up to me for leadership and assistance. So i need all the help that i can get – thank you once again.

  2. I am taking away some great things. I have been a person that just rides the waves of feelings and events. Never really expected too much of myself but expected more of others. Thanks for the nuggets of truth about expectations.
    Onward and upward! GBailey

  3. Thanks a lot. This has gone a long way changing me to who i suppose to be and taking mw out of my comfort zone. I can confidently say ” i am growing and developing”
    More wisdom!

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