My test at the hospital seemed simple enough. The doctor ordered a scan of my kidneys and the only requirement on my part was that I drink 16 ounces of water one hour before arriving at the hospital and that I could not relieve myself before the examination. I drank extra for good measure.
By the time I pulled into the hospital I ached so bad that I could have gone to the emergency room! There was no way I was going to make it to the examination without first finding some relief. I found a bathroom and then tried to calculate just how much relief I could take and still have a useful test done. I made a decision that allowed me slight relief and headed through the hospital wings looking for admissions. Once there the waiting process began. When they finally started signing me in it was clear to me that I had miscalculated the amount of relief I needed vs the time it was going to take to get this test done. I asked permission and found another restroom and again went through the calculation of just how much relief I could take and still be prepared for the exam.
Once through the check in procedure they escorted me to the waiting room for the actual test. Here I waited another 45 minutes before they brought me in. During that time I snuck in the restroom again and made the same relief vs time calculation. Finally I had enough and determined that this was an impossible task they had assigned me and that I was old enough to stop being obedient and suffering when clearly nobody else had taken all of what was happening into account. I told the attendant that I was going to just relieve myself completely and just start drinking more water. He agreed, common sense prevailed and I finally found comfort.
The assignment given before the test by my doctor’s office was just impossible to accomplish and never should have been given the way it was.
We are all brought up with the thought of the goodness and the correctness of “dreaming the impossible dream”. It’s part of our culture….to climb the mountain, to suffer and triumph, to win against the odds. What doesn’t make sense is when we ask or assign somebody else to “dream our impossible dream”.
When we dream our dream there are built-in exits or alternatives that we do not desire but that take into account our situations, talents, skills, and a million other things. Therefore when we get 200 feet from the top of the mountain and there is a blizzard and our companion is near death we stop the climb and make a common sense decision, perhaps to try again another day.
However, when we “assign” an expectation to somebody we love or who loves and respects us, perhaps a spouse or children, and the force behind the “gaining the dream” is mainly not to disappoint us, we no longer make sense. We assign an impossible task and the person does not have the benefit of taking into account all of the situations, talents, skills, and a million other things that would have allowed us to exit gracefully. For this person, failure means they can expect to receive disappointment from us.
It is not a fair or decent thing to assign an expectation of performance that is your impossible dream and not the other person’s.
It is probably a good idea to take a look at the expectation you put on your spouse and children and, while keeping your standards high, provide some latitude and longitude, some wiggle room, some margins of error, some whoops but that’s ok, some room for their own decision-making to dominate, and thereby introduce some common sense into the equation.
HighFive Your Life Principle: Dream your dreams. Do not assign or expect an impossible dream from someone else. Teach sound principles but allow them to have their own dreams. Enjoy their journey instead of setting the absolute standards for success by which your approval of their life is granted.