When I worked in business I hated the ridiculous language and made up phrases known as, “Management Speak:” Thinking outside the box, stepping up to the plate, singing from the same hymn sheet, stretching the envelope, touching base, blue-sky thinking… aaaarrrrggghhhh.
I once overheard a colleague on the phone saying, “OK, so I think we can give this one the rubber light.” He’d confused rubber stamp and green light. Remember that one Chris?
One of the things I was, apparently, trying to do with my clients was, “manage expectations.” It basically meant: covering your back by not promising too much. If you offer a Skoda and produce an Audi they’ll be delighted, but if you promise a Rolls Royce and produce an Audi they’ll be slightly less pleased.
Although I don’t like the term, I do like the concept and it’s something I apply to much of my life. Keeping expectations low means I’m more likely to be pleasantly surprised. Strangely, one of the few activities where I totally fail to manage my own expectations is golf.
Even when I’ve been enduring an extended run of poor form, I’ll head to the first tee truly believing I can play to par. I then become increasingly frustrated through the round as shots are dropped and I leave the 18th green feeling depressed. But, if I’d thought about it logically and “managed expectations,” I’d have rationalised: “OK, in my last five rounds my best score is +5, I haven’t practised or had a lesson since my last game so, realistically, I can’t expect to shoot dramatically better than that.”
By expecting too much I put added pressure on myself and end up with an even worse score and feeling even more downhearted.
Luckily, my current form is actually pretty good. I scored 68 in the first two Medal rounds of the season and my handicap is down to 1.9. Unfortunately this means my expectations are at stratospheric levels. Before the mid-week Medal yesterday I was contemplating course records and calculating just how many points would come tumbling off my handicap if I shot nine under.
After making the third six of my round at the 15th, even the most complicated equation couldn’t calculate a way for me to get back under par by the end of the game. I walked off the final green with a 71 feeling dejected, as if I’d scored +20 rather than +2.
It took a little post round reflection (about three quarters of a pint) to realise I’d played to my handicap and, normally, I’d be quite happy with a score of 71. It was just my lofty pre-round expectations making me feel disappointed.
From now, I’m going to manage my expectations prior to competitive rounds. I’m going to look at my current form and consider my handicap to set a realistic total I’d be content with. Not a score I’d be delighted with, but a score I’d be satisfied with. That seems logical, the only problem is – how depressed am I going to feel if I don’t even manage to match that score?
No, it should be OK. If I leverage my skill sets to optimise performance and counter any step changes or paradigm shifts by staying on-point with key performance indicators, the arrow should fly straight and true to its target.