My system for increased fulfillment, inner peace, more sleep, and (along with a better diet) better blood pressure readings has been a balancing of expectations and standards. I’d be lying if I said I had the formula perfected, but the trick seems to be figuring out how to lower expectations with a corresponding and seemingly paradoxical heightening of standards.
How can I accept what will likely be yet simultaneously strive for something greater?
I think it starts with the realization of just who is responsible for what. Expectations are the strong belief that something will happen, an open-ended guess about the future over which you really have no control. It makes sense, then, to keep your expectations realistic and realize there’s often not much you can do to alter the outcome. I tend to err toward the bottom end when it comes to expectations. It leads to less disappointment.
But standards are wholly determined by me. Standards are what I demand from myself. They’re up to me to determine and me to meet. It’s within my standards that potential can be truly realized. It’s within my standards that character is determined.
While a slew of uncontrollables — ethnicity, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, place of birth — can limit one’s expectations and absolutely add degrees of difficulty to any endeavor, those added challenges can also make success so much sweeter. Those who overcome the challenges they had no control over inevitably raise their standards. But sometimes you need someone to show you how to do it or that it’s even possible.
In this issue, we feature the story of a small-town young woman who has exceeded expectations. To be clear, everyone already knew that great things were in her future, but no one had an idea about how great those things could be. She ultimately found her calling in an education and career that not even she imagined — the study of flight and space travel. — and within the mentoring of another small town woman who blazed a similar trail. Both are prime examples of setting the highest personal standards.
Grace Zimmerman has built a path that, if not literally leading to the stars, will lead to her becoming a guide of sorts to wonders of the universe that most of us can barely grasp. And it’s also led her to another calling: helping free those young minds shackled by cultural expectations and enabling them to raise their standards. Most will likely discover, as she did, that the key was already within them. They just needed a little help to find it.