When Great Expectations Lead To Great Disappointments

Is Your Career Advancement Stuck In Adolescence?

“You will become as small as your controlling desire; as great as your dominant aspiration.” James Allen

Great Expectations (1946 film)

Great Expectations (1946 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Starting a business is a lot like growing up from adolescence into adulthood.

We start the journey with Hollywood dreams of “Great Wealth,” “Independence,” “The Admiration of Friends and Family.”

We learn soon enough that being successful in business and our career is not about us. It’s about serving others.

Usually the success we seek as adolescents is materialistic in nature, such as wanting the things that financial success can bring.

We want the “Great House,” “Great Car,” and “Freedom,” usually meaning freedom to buy things.

We want “Great Romance” too. The Supermodel with a heart of gold, or the White Knight who can be the Black Knight in the bedroom. We want to leave the control of our parents and move straight to Easy Street. Recognized by family and friends as “Unique and Brilliant.”

But we soon learned as new business owners that we had the cart before the horse. Our business or career isn’t going to succeed because we want it to. It only succeeds to the measure that we or it serves others: lots of customers and employees, or our supervisors.

It’s the same lesson we learn as we grow into adults, that a successful life isn’t one where we focus on ourselves. Life success, the happiness we seek, doesn’t come from wealth, status, adoring subservient love partners, or the best education. As we grow we see that those wishes were superficial and selfish.

Success Comes From Giving of Ourselves To Others

Career success, business success, management success, life success comes from giving, not receiving. Giving more than is expected of you at work, in your relationships, in your community. Give, give and give more and we tend to receive more.

Superficial goals are usually based upon immature desires. Often immature desires can become “controlling” desires. This means sometimes a part of ourselves gets stuck in adolescence and starts controlling our behavior in a negative way. Most often this happens in our search for romance.

Advertisers know this and that is why appealing to selfish, superficial desires is so effective. Look at the Hollywood poster above for a movie version of Charles Dickens’ masterpiece novel, Great Expectations. Do you see how superficial this advertising is? It has almost nothing to do with the art of this novel.

Did it by chance bore you to tears when you were forced to read it for some class? Then reread it because it provides a map for how to get to “happiness.” That’s why this novel is famous as a classic of literature.

In this novel, we follow a boy’s transformation from immature, selfish adolescent that desires more status, wealth and romance to an adult who realizes that none of these things lead to happiness. Happiness comes from the goodness of one’s heart and from giving our best to others. Oh, and it is full of adventure, romance and great mystery.

Pretty much the Greatest Story Ever Told all over again, right?

Stuck In Adolescence In Your Business? As A Manager? As An Employee?

Do you find yourself holding back your best, or are you freely giving and sharing your best at work? Do you find yourself holding back in relationships, being extremely critical of the person you once found so appealing? Are you constantly critical of your boss? This is just another version of taking your toys and going home.

Are you constantly disappointed in others? Boom. There you have it. Then it’s time to look inside. Look at yourself and see where your inner adolescent has taken control of some element of your life. Your expectations are too great and probably superficial.

Are you, like Miss Havisham, stuck in your wedding dress dream? Are you angry at the world for disappointing you, at someone for hurting you? Has your pain turned into a manic obsession? Are you now saying to yourself, “all men are this way,” or “all women are this way.”

We’re all human. Everyone’s suffering in some way because that’s the nature of this world, duality. Sadness and happiness go together. They are one and the same coin. You can try to choose, heads or tails. But it’s a lot more effective to accept both happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, light and darkness.

On the other hand, you may be giving too much to someone who is by nature destructive. You may be in Estella’s shoes. But that’s a story for another time.

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