I was recently chatting with a friend about difficulties getting Treasurer roles in community organisations filled. She was playing with the idea of getting a university student or even a Year 12 student into the role in her organisation. I admit my initial reaction was “oh, I’m not sure about that”. I baulked at the thought of handing over such responsibility to an 18 year old. Was I falling into stereotypes and biases? I had to catch myself, step back and allow the benefits of the idea to slowly break through my resistance.
The idea has merits. Obviously, you would choose the individual with care – someone responsible, keen to learn, and for younger candidates, ensure parental support. There is absolutely nothing wrong with giving someone great expectations to live up to.
I draw on my own experience of being in Australia for the first time as an 18 year old student. My parents entrusted me with an entire year’s living expenses (about $10,000) and the only direction I was given was “make it last until the end of the year. That’s all there is.” The following year, my sister joined me and I was entrusted with $30,000 to last both of us the following two years. Those with good mental maths will note that I had to make the money stretch further this time!
When I reflect on this, there is still a part of me that feels that what they did was “unthinkable”. How could they possible trust a 18/19 year old with so much money. If I had blown it, that would have been the end of our education. Most of my friends’ parents took a more conservative approach and sent funds on a periodic basis. I recall that there were often S.O.S calls for more.
Some time ago, I asked my mother how they (my parents) made that decision and she replied that alternatives had not occurred to her. I am not sure whether I was satisfied with that response. So, there hadn’t been much thought given to the enormity of the decision – the risk, the expectations, but that didn’t change the fact that I had expectations to live up to.
So, my hypothesis is this :-
Give someone expectations to live up to (with genuine trust and belief) and they SHOULD live up to it.
Lower your expectations and they WILL live down to those expectations.
Which parts of your life or behaviour are a result of lowered expectations? Find them, change those expectations and allow yourself to live up to it!