If there’s a book you really want to read,
but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.
Toni Morrison

Ever since I can remember, expectations have been important to me. I may not have expressed it in those terms, but I have sensed life was not going the way I had planned. Having one parent die at a young age seemed to set the tone for me thinking that things might not work out exactly the way I would have liked. I can remember thinking that life was dealing me a difficult hand. In retrospect, life was good with many enjoyments and rewards along with a number of difficulties. But I can remember thinking from an early age, “Brian, don’t expect much, you will just be disappointed.”

That became a self-fulfilling prophecy! Life did have its share of disappointments. One that seemed to prove my point came at the conclusion of public school, as I was completing Grade 6. At the final assembly, three students were to receive an achievement award. Prior to the assembly, several of my classmates speculated on who would win the coveted awards. Their nods to me built up a certainty in myself that I would win. So when three other names were called and not mine, I was crushed. I didn’t know what to say. I put up a brave front, congratulated them, and left the auditorium as quickly as possible. They truly deserved the awards, no doubt about it, but I had let my expectations build to a point where anything less than the prize was not good enough.

As I trace through the years that followed, with both highs and lows, my story became one of learning to manage expectations; my own as well as other’s expectations of me. I often looked for a book on expectations, but never found one dedicated to the topic. In the past ten years, through journaling, blogging, and writing for personal enjoyment, this topic came into sharper focus. This led me to think that perhaps I should write such a book, not as an expert, but as someone who is still learning about the subject and wants to share his discoveries with others.

There have been several books and articles written over the years that have helped me with the subject, and wherever possible, I will give them credit. Much of what I have written is simply my own musings on the subject, along with the added wisdom of others who have critiqued my thinking and shared insights of their own. I am grateful for the input of so many who listened to me and gave feedback to my seminars or to my writing. Special thanks to Sandy for constant discussion and revision; to reader Bruce Chambers and copy editor Barb Chambers, to editor Dianne McMurray; and to designer and publisher Warren MacDonald.

As the opening quote says, “If there’s a book you really want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, you must write it.” This is the book I wish I had read to help me manage my expectations. I hope it helps you.

Brian F. Reynolds

Preface from the book:
What Do You Expect?
By Brian Reynolds