Great Expectations of Success



“Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” – George S. Patton

How do you act when you just absolutely know you’re going to nail something?  I bet a lot differently than when you think you haven’t got a shot.

The Day I Knew I Could Vault Higher

One of the highlights in my life was clearing 10 feet with a pole vault.  That’s not a lot in terms of pole-vaulting possibilities, but it was the day I learned how to bend the pole.  When you bend the pole, you can clear more height.

Strangely, I didn’t really “learn” to bend the pole.  That day, I simply knew that I could.  I fully believed that I could plant the pole, hoist my body up, bend the pole back, and fling my body over the bar.

And that’s exactly what I did.  It was like poetry in motion.

Great Expectations Helped Me Vault Higher

It’s a good thing I fully expected that I could do it, otherwise, I seriously don’t think I could have thrown my body over 10 feet in the air.  Pole vaulting is a non-trivial thing where a lot of mechanics have to come together to pull it off.  In another example, I cleared my neighbor’s fence while racing to get a ball.  I simply “high-jumped” the fence.  Looking back, in that case, I don’t know how I cleared the fence (it was a high fence), other than I didn’t know that I couldn’t.  Without a limiting belief to stop me, I simply jumped the fence.  The pattern I’ve noticed throughout life is, you get what you expect and you get more of what you focus on.

In the book, Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement, Tony Robbins writes about how having great expectations of success creates a success spiral, and how the opposite is also true.  You spiral up or spiral down based on your own expectations.

Believe You Will Succeed

Success is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  The more you believe you will succeed, the more you will succeed.  If you don’t think you’ll succeed, then you won’t give it your best shot.  Taking halfhearted shots undermines your chances to pull it off.

Via Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement:

”Let’s say you begin with great expectations.  More than expectations — you believe with every fiber of your being that you will succeed.  Starting with that direction, clear communication of what you know to be true, how much of your potential will you use? Probably a good deal.  What kind of actions are you going to take this time?  Are you going to drag yourself out and take a halfhearted shot at it?  Of course not!  You’re excited, you’re energized, you have great expectations of success, you’re going to go great guns. … It’s the opposite of the vicious cycle.  In this case, success feeds on success and generates more success, and each success creates more belief and momentum to succeed on an even higher scale.”

Maintain the Belief Systems that Empower You

Don’t let anybody take your power away.  Especially you.  If there’s one thing to keep through life it’s your personal belief system that empowers you.

Via Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement:

“Do resourceful people screw up?  Sure they do.  Do affirmative beliefs guarantee results every time?  Of course not … But history has shown time and again that if people maintain the belief systems that empower them, they’ll keep coming back with enough action and enough resourcefulness to succeed eventually.”

Sometimes Just Not Having a Limited Belief is Enough

Have you ever surprised yourself with your own ability?  Sometimes you pull things off because you didn’t know you couldn’t.  There are many stories of people that did things that were “impossible” simply because they didn’t know they couldn’t be done.

Via Unlimited Power: The New Science Of Personal Achievement:

“Sometimes it’s not necessary to have a tremendous belief or attitude about something in order to succeed.  Sometimes people produce outstanding results simply because they don’t know something is difficult or impossible.  Sometimes just not having a limited belief is enough.”

Photo by latvian.


  1. I love this post J.D.! It reminds me of the fact that sometime harmless ignorance is our best ally. I think a lot of people are intimated by certain things in life and refrain from taking action because they believe they are not worthy of something, when in fact they are!
    For example, I have clients who are afraid to approach prospects because they feel they are BIG enough yet. I say bullhonk! I’ve seen people who (out of ignorance) approach high profile people in various circumstances come out on top with what they want in tow. They didn’t know who they were approaching so they didn’t have any reason to believe that they shouldn’t! I think you post speaks to that very thing.

  2. I loved this part: “you get what you expect and you get more of what you focus on.” I find it comforting and exciting to know that even before something has taken place that the focus and drive behind the action have power and a force of their own. It’s the thoughts we cling to and feed that will eventually come to fruition if there is follow through of action. All kinds of inspiring stuff here today, J.D.! 🙂

  3. My favorite part is the idea of a success spiral. We have no problem getting into a downward spiral. We focus on some horrible thought or fear and just let it suck us down. But we don’t really ever think that the opposite applies as well. We can focus on a great feeling thought and let it draw us upward. Thanks for a thought provoking post.

  4. Wow I really like the way you bring pole vaulting into this post. We all can achieve our goals when we learn how to bend the pole. This good, “you get what you expect and you get more of what you focus on.”
    Jumping a fence reminds me of when I was a teenager, stealing watermelons from a farmer watermelon patch. Two one under each arm and he shot of a shot gun in the air. I cleared a fence without even giving it a second thought. And I might remind you I was only 5 foot tall and it was a 4 foot fence.

    Thank you for reminding me that I can jump and I do know how to bend the pole, JD
    Blessing to you,

  5. J.D.,
    I have no doubt that confidence is one of the greatest indicators of success. It is about focusing and believing in yourself.

    I just recently starting blogging and it has been a great adventure so far. I just want to find my voice and put it out there and see if anyone is interested.

    Thanks for your insight!

  6. Excellent post filled with strength & inspiration! Recently I came across an inspiring phrase that I have adopted:
    “I have plenty of time for the things that are important to me.”
    It’s an empowering frame. And your post is filled with such empowering thoughts. Thanks!

  7. @ Marlee — Thank you! Yes, so many times, ignorance is not only bliss, sometimes it’s truly empowering.

    @ Clearly Composed — It seems like we’re really wired to bring good thoughts to life.

    @ Melody — It’s amazing how much focus our focus is like a magnet. Snapping out of spirals is so much easier once we recognize the patterns and change our focus.

    @ Debbie — That sounds like quite the leap! … and I get the shot gun in the air was quite the inspiration 😉

    @ Jason — Congrats on your new adventure. When you combine your voice with your unique experience, I bet you have a ton of insight and lessons to share.

    @ Jimmy — I like that a lot. We’re always finding time for our priorities.

  8. Hi J.D.,

    Good reminder that self-doubt and self-imposed limitations are the barriers to success! It is amazing what we can do when we do not recognize or accept limitations and instead focus on new opportunities.

    In looking at my own professional path, I had the most success every time I challenged the assumptions. Challenging assumptions is a great tool for innovative thinking and discovering new possibilities.


  9. Success is easier than you might believe.
    We have so much potential that we leave untapped that it is hard to fathom.

    When we stop limiting ourselves all a sudden impossible things become possible.

    Just look at mothers lifting cars to free their children.
    Sure we have been able to prove that it is an extrem adrenaline kick that gives them that strength, but why can’t we always call on that kick when we need it?

    Why can’t we lift cars?

  10. @ Robert — I agree — challenging assumptions is a powerful way to spawn new possibilities.

    @ Daniel — It’s amazing what we can do when we strip away limits, especially self-imposed.

  11. “Don’t let anybody take your power away. Especially you” – i like it a lot. I use Edisons’s “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work” as my personal belief system.

  12. Great post JD,
    You just have to be sharp and practice the right mindset of positivity. Not letting others take that away. And I agree about confidence, in order to gain confidence you must practice courage.

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