Overcoming (Low) Expectations
OR: Yes, I’m Really Going. Here’s the Proof
When I was in my early 20s, I worked for an ISP in my hometown as a content developer. My job was to catalog local web sites in our portal — Yahoo! for local businesses, if you will. In my “off” time, I wrote items of interest. One day, I found out President Bill Clinton was coming to town in just a few days, and I resolved to cover the president’s visit.
People didn’t think I could do it.
Our operations director was equally skeptical. So was most of our staff. But I was resolved, and I set about getting credentialed to cover the president. That’s where Dawn Harper comes into the story. You see, Dawn wasn’t skeptical, and she was supportive.
A few months before this visit, we had installed a new phone system that included a facility-wide intercom. The receptionist could push a button and every phone in the building became a broadcast speaker. Friday before the visit, I was standing in my boss’s office when Dawn engaged the intercom. “Michael DeVault, you have a call waiting. Michael DeVault, the White House, line one.”
This wasn’t the first time some people around me felt compelled to express skepticism. It wasn’t the last, either.
When I moved to Nashville from my hometown, some of my friends made bets about how soon I’d return in failure. They placed wagers. They bet on my failure. As far as I have heard, none of them won the bet because no one took “He won’t be back.”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not offended by people who have these low expectations, as I think that’s par for the course in Gen X’s America. Incredulity is the order of the day, and being generally negative was bred into us with a steady stream of bad 1990s television, unhappy music, and a general sense of discontent. But at some point, one has to ask: How many times will this happen?
One of the more interesting parts of this process has been finding out how incredulous people are that I may, actually, go and hike the Inca Trail. It’s a guided tour with porters and chefs. And while yes, it’s an arduous journey, It’s not like I’m going to attempt summiting Everest. The upside of all of this incredulity is that, it turns out, “proving people wrong” is a great motivator for someone like me.
The downside is it can be a little disheartening to know people betting against me because they “just can’t imagine he’ll actually do it.”
So, to assuage just a little of this incredulity, let me simply say this: I booked the tour. I’m going with Alpaca Expeditions and will have more to say about why later.