Working in my home office Friday evening, I pecked away at the keyboard, vaguely aware that I had turned on the television to provide some background noise as I finished up the week's projects.
All activity came to a stop, however, when the words uttered by a woman in the broadcast caught my full attention. CBS Evening News was running one of those folksy, upbeat segments that typically usher viewers into a weekend mentality. "When you expect the best," said the woman from Ohio, "That's what you're going to receive."
The woman was Jackie Sypherd who runs Sypherd's Cycles in a small town seemingly best known for its citizens' universal trust in people. (The full story can be viewed here.) Ms. Sypherd's shop rents out bikes, and customers are not asked to provide a deposit or leave behind a driver's license. She simply trusts the customers to return the rentals–always has and presumably always will. In 28 years of business, nobody has ever absconded with a bicycle.
For me, the story was both refreshing and familiar. Here at Impact Learning Systems, we develop training that revolves around a central theme of the HEART Model™–the E in HEART standing for "expect the best."
I've never worked with the bike shop in Ohio (or for that matter CBS Evening News), but I have worked with a number of other organizations–both big and small–that have come to recognize just how powerful this mindset can be.
Managers who expect the best from their employees tend to get better results than those who doubt the potential of their team. Sales reps who expect the best send a subtle message through their attitude and behavior–an attitude that often convinces the customer to close the deal. Most importantly, perhaps, I've seen time and again how people who expect the best from themselves rarely disappoint.
How it works I can't really say. But think of the placebo effect (it's up to 90 percent effective). And studies have shown that athletes who visualize a winning performance are far more likely to achieve it than those athletes who do not.
I guess it all goes back to the age-old motif of the self-fulfilling prophecy: If you expect a situation to turn out poorly, you're essentially guaranteeing that it will. Might as well expect the best!