My Wipro India Manager and myself walked out of the beautiful campus of Canon Inc in Shimo-maruko, Tokyo. We had just completed the meeting with their Canon senior manager in the software development team. We had a team of 7 onsite engineers working with Canon. As was the ritual, after meeting the client, the manager would meet with Wipro Engineers. I called up the lead engineer and we met at the nearby cafe for a short chat. 

The Lead engineer, though happy to see the India manager had a noticeable glum expression on his face. On enquiring, he shared what had happened. Apparently, the Canon senior manager had been informed about a major bug in the code and their own team had not been able to resolve the issue. The senior manager had subsequently sought help from the lead engineer in another project to get some help. Unfortunately, even that had not yielded any result. Next day, as a last resort, the senior manager had asked the lead Wipro Engineer to look into the matter and see if he could debug the code. To the surprise of the Canon team and their senior manager, the Wipro Engineers were able to debug the code and resolve the issue by late evening.

Hearing this story, the India manager and myself were quite pleased. “This is really good. You should be happy about it. Why are you sad?”, enquired the India manager. 

“Despite the significance of our effort, the fact that we did something which even their best engineer could not, the Canon manager has not spoken any word of appreciation or called out our effort.They are just going about with their regular routine.” Replied the lead Engineer.

The India manager thought for a moment and asked the engineer ” You guys work at Canon. They make these beautiful digital cameras. Have you bought any of their cameras?”. The lead engineer immediately replied with lot of enthusiasm ” Oh yes, last year  I got a new one Canon SLR. And its been a year now and it still gives me some excellent shots. Canon does make great cameras.”. 

The India manager remarked ” Then have YOU ever gone back to Canon and told them how great cameras you make, any note of appreciation sent to the company?”. The embarrassed look and sense of self realisation on the face of the engineer, clearly gave us the answer.

One of the biggest source of misery in life is that we EXPECT. And not just expect once a while, we are expecting ALL the time. Expecting from OTHERS, even expecting from non living things. We expect our parents to appreciate our behaviour,  we expect our teacher to like our assignment, we expect our boss to commend us for our work, we expect the day to go well, we expect the weather to be good, we expect the water to flow from the tap, the car to start every-time, etc. etc. etc. 

The challenge here, is that in many cases, these are unstated expectations, which, if called out, can surely yield positive results and resolve our concern. Like the engineer in the story above, could have just walked up to the Canon manager and asked for some feedback on the work and his misery would have been resolved. There was nothing in the protocol which disallowed him from doing so. If your teacher has been too busy to call out your work, feel free to go and ask what she feels about the same. Unfortunately, its either due to our ego or plain ignorance, we do not try that option. We would rather sulk in misery. 

Expectations from oneself, of course, work wonders. We set targets for ourselves. We beat the target and then set another benchmark. If we miss, then we analyse and course-correct. And yes, thats good to expect oneself to do well, its natural. But from others, that’s a different issue all together.

In the Balance sheet of life, expectations from oneself are an asset. Expectations from others, is a liability.

So Stop Expecting. Start Accepting.