Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Power of Expectations

My two year old son knows how to use my iPad. The internet and technology are norms. The speed at which the world moves today is commonplace. Watching my son navigate the touch screen, I began to wonder, what drives each generation? Why do things continue to advance at such an incredible pace?

I'm wondering if it's as simple as our expectations. I've long believed that expectations not communicated or not met can powerfully influence marriages and relationships. But how do they impact culture?

My son expects things to move quickly. We expect instant success. Instead of working our whole lives to buy a home, we want to match our parents right out of college. So we work two jobs. Our moms don't stay home. We work that much harder so we can have everything that much sooner so we can move on to the next breakthrough today instead of tomorrow. If we didn't expect so much, would anything change?

In third world countries where generations live just as the previous ones did, could new expectations change everything? What if children expected clean water? Would they learn from other communities and dig their own wells? What happens when cultures start expecting Blue Jeans and Big Macs? What's the proper day to day balance between no expectations, realistic down-to-earth expectations and those that got us to the moon?

How can we learn to control our expectations instead of them controlling us? Once we have that healthy control, how can we give it to peoples and cultures that are in such desperate need?

The answers aren't clear, but the next generation is certainly watching. They will have the results of our expectations in their hands to use as they see fit. They will shape the world according to what they envision and they are looking to us for a model that works.