top of page

Great Expectations!

Updated: Apr 13, 2021

Mindset Made Simple Tip #31

It is competition time…and competition means performance EXPECTATIONS!

As I think about expectations and since it is February 15th, I am going to share with you a short story about someone I am lucky to have in my life!

Today is my dear friend Annette’s birthday. (HAPPY BIRTHDAY IN SUNNY FLORIDA, Annette!)

I won’t tell you how old she is today. But on this day when I as in high school, a group of my friends and I made a huge 30 in the snow in her front yard. Since you don’t know exactly how old I am, you can only sort of figure out how old she is today! 😊

Either way, her age is not important. It is just a number - and the fact that she is having another birthday means I have been blessed for many many years to have her as a part of my life!

Annette was my teacher from the 8th grade through my senior year. I played the violin and she was the orchestra director…and she was a VERY GOOD one!

Not only did she lead our school orchestra to many award-winning performances, she lead several other youth orchestras to the same and is an accomplished violinist herself. She had a knack for getting good stuff out of kids…some of them great musicians…some of them jr. high and high school kids who just wanted to play an instrument.

But, ultimately, she was, and still is, very good to me. Not just because she was a good teacher, but because she is a wonderful human being.

Here is where today’s topic of EXPECTATIONS comes in. One of Annette’s EXPECTATIONS was that her musicians had to “defend or improve” their position on a regular basis.

This included what she called “challenges.” To CHALLENGE, we had to practice a piece and then play the piece to challenge those who had a chair above us to move up. For those of you not all that familiar with musical hierarchy, the closer you sit to the conductor, the better you are!

So, we had to compete. Just you against the person in front of you – performing in front of a “judge”.

Your performance in that moment made a difference in your role in the orchestra…and everyone could see it because you sat in that chair until the next challenge.

This was a GREAT experience. And I carry the lessons from it still today!

Because I cared what Annette thought of me (I was 13 and did not call her by her first name at the time), and because I wanted to be in the front seats, this played into my performance.

I had EXPECTATIONS -wanting to do my best in front of her to avoid embarrassment, move up and the host of other reasons that go through a 13-year-old’s head.

She had EXPECTATIONS, some concrete and others that I assumed (I am sure she did and hers for me were probably not nearly as high as I imagined them). My parent had EXPECTATIONS (and those were high 😊). I had thoughts about what my peers expected (and they could not have cared less).

But in my head, EXPECTATIONS abounded!

And as we know, our EXPECTATIONS influence our actions, and our actions impact our performance.

Merriman defines expectation is “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future…a belief that someone will or should achieve something”.

This definition includes both internal and external expectations and we can see how these can increase a player or a team’s perceived pressure as they perform.

EXPECTATIONS can serve as motivators…as they were in our “challenges.”

EXPECTATIONS can also be debilitating and can lead to negative self-talk and everything else that brings with it!

Helping to identify and define expectations can be very helpful in keeping expectations in their place and assuring athletes are using them to enhance performance.

One of my mindset coaching colleagues encourages a great exercise to help make athletes aware of the effects of EXPECTATIONS, both internal and external.

She suggests that we have our athletes write down all the expectations they believe exist…both internal and external. What do they expect individually and what do they think others expect of them?

She then asks athletes to cross out all of those that don’t really matter.

I suggest they also cross out all of those they cannot CONTROL! This list can range from those associated with statistics, outcomes, awards, scholarship increases, media coverage…the list goes on and on!

The ones that remain should resemble a list of goals. They all must include a PROCESS for achieving the expectation!

If the expectations cannot be met through a set process, then they are emotionally based and will negatively affect our performance!

If they are unrealistic, like me expecting to be first chair in the Akron Youth Symphony – or even my high school orchestra for that matter – or an athlete living up to their parent’s expectations of hitting .500…our athletes when are in danger of not being able meet expectations which leads them toward a mental mess.

They can become overwhelmed with negative emotion, defeating or performance-damaging thoughts and a ton of anxiety!

Getting our athletes to balance expectations is just one more thing that can help them stick with their 4 Ps (Present, Process, Positive, Posture).

I am very grateful for the challenges and the expectations Annette either had or inspired through her teaching and challenges. I am certain that they taught me a lot about performing and helped me work on my 4Ps at a young age.

Just acknowledging the expectations we think we need to live up to can be helpful.

Making a plan on how to meet those that are useful and appropriate can help keep our athletes in the right state of mind as they perform!

So, if today is your birthday, too…happy birthday! You share this day with an amazing person!

As you think about your own expectations, be sure you are using them to help as you move through the season and the pressures mount. You can make a list, too!

I can help you with the expectation that you will help your players’ mental game!

Shoot me an email to set up a free session for your team or your staff! You can expect that I will take the pressures of implementing a mental game plan off your shoulders to help lead your team toward a smarter, stronger and better mindset!

Have a wonderful week!


P.P.S – Don’t forget to join me tomorrow at 12:00 EST to learn how you can manage your personal energy and be more productive. Click HERE for more information and to register!

Julie Jones

Certified Mental Performance & Mindset Coach

SSB Performance • 234-206-0946



Be strong and courageous. Joshua 1:9


bottom of page