Do I excel because I like what I do? Or do I like it because I’m good at it?
This question both excites and terrifies me. Could it be that we delude ourselves into thinking that we like our work because we are good at it? Do I like painting more than sports only because I'm not very athletic?
Of course, some people work at jobs they dislike but still do good work. But would they be even better at it if they enjoyed it?
We constantly make judgments about ourselves and other people. And those judgments aren't always just thoughts, words or feelings. Sometimes, our opinions can shape reality.
In psychology, that's called a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's a common phenomenon where a prediction causes itself to come true. That's because if we are convinced that we are going to get a specific result, we may modify our behavior so that we achieve what we imagined we would.
For example, if we think we are going to fail in a project, we will pay less attention to details and dedicate less and less time to its development. With that approach, chances are that we will indeed end up failing.
This psychological and/or emotional mechanism is so important because it can condition and determine people's aspirations and achievements.
This quote from Henry Ford sums it up nicely: "Whether you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right either way.”
To illustrate that point, many studies have been conducted on self-fulfilling prophecies with children. They have shown that if a teacher has low expectations for his or her students, those students will perform poorly. On the other hand, if the teacher has high expectations, students' results will be surprisingly high.
As a leader, do you think that you should change your attitude towards your team to positively influence them? Do you think, as a person who is part of a team, that your manager should expect the best from you to improve your performance?
As Stephen R. Covey said: "Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become as he can and should be."