Managing Expectations, or How I Ended up Sitting in the Shade

Posted by dianne on Jul 14, 2010 in Blog | Tags:, , , | 2 comments

When my children swam on the neighborhood swim team, parents were called upon to volunteer to run the twice weekly meets. One of the volunteer positions was Clerk of Course. On our team the clerk of course had to track down the swimmers who might be snacking at the concession stand, climbing on the fence, splashing in the baby pool or hanging out under the warm showers in the locker room. The Clerk would then hand the swimmers their cards and send them to line up in the proper lane. This required a lot in the part of the parent. First of all they had to know the names of and recognize about 100 children. If you don’t think that’s hard, keep in mind that all these children are wearing matching swim suits and caps. And when they put on their goggles even their own mothers have to look very closely to identify their offspring. In addition the volunteer had to be fleet of foot to catch up with quickly moving 10-year-olds on the “no running allowed” pool deck.

Then something remarkable happened. The Clerk of Course arrived at a Tuesday night meet on crutches. She had sprained her ankle earlier in the day. She told the coaches and the team that she would not be able to hunt for swimmers. She would sit in a chair in the shade holding the event cards. The swimmers would have to come to her for their cards. And they did. At least, 95% of the time they did. A few swimmers missed an event, but they learned quickly. Once one mom set a new expectation, no Clerk of Course left the comfort of the chair in the shade. The swimmers became much more responsible (Isn’t that one of the lessons sports is supposed to teach?) and Clerk of Course became one of the most attractive volunteer positions.

So how does this apply to your life and career? Are you working harder than you need to? Are you babying someone or a lot of someones who could learn to be more responsible?

2 Responses to Managing Expectations, or How I Ended up Sitting in the Shade

  1. Jody Worsham says:

    Good idea. I wonder if I could sit on the bench at Wal-Mart with my list. If they want my business, someone has to come and get my list and load up my grocery cart. Supply and Demand. I demand, they supply. I think I will try it.
    The Medicare Mom.

  2. Dianne says:

    Jody, That's a great idea! I wonder if the recycling driver would come in and haul the plastic and cardboard out from under the sink.