High, Positive and Realistic Expectations
(made of them by others and themselves)

This characteristic reflects the potency of what is known as a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.  This term refers to the phenomenon where what is expected or anticipated can affect an outcome in such a way that it mirrors that which was anticipated or expected.  In this context it refers to the tendency people have to live up to, or down to, what is expected of them.  Expectations originate from an individual’s interaction with people and society.  They become internalised and have a powerful impact on how an individual sees themselves, the sense of power (or lack thereof) they believe they have, what they strive for, what they see as being of importance, what they believe they can do or want to do – in short, every aspect of their life and relating.

In order for expectations to have a positive impact (ie, they enhance an individual’s resilience and performance) they must be high, positive and realistic.  Low expectations will result in lower performance and attainment.  If expectations are too high, or bear no relationship to what can realistically be attained, (or to the potential or skill set of the individual) then they doom the individual to failure and a sense of inadequacy which will negatively impact on their resilience.

In the community context whether the expectations made of an individual, or groups of individuals, are realistic or not is also dependent upon the level of resourcing or support the community is willing to invest in the attainment of those expectations.  In addition to provision of money, facilities and materials, this resourcing also relates to educational opportunities. Resilient communities are places where people are supported in developing the skill set they need in order to meet the expectations made of them.

In the workplace context whether organisational expectations are realistic or not is also dependent upon the level of resourcing or support the organisation is willing to invest in the attainment of those expectations. An organisation’s management structure and operational policies and procedures convey its ethos/spirituality and make clear its expectations.  A combination of high expectations and support enables individuals to attain desired outcomes, believe in themselves and their capacity to carry out their work and to develop the critical resilience traits of self-esteem, self-efficacy, autonomy and optimism.