So much of daily life depends on expectation. Expectation can be good, don’t get me wrong. If we have high expectations of ourselves, we can stay motivated and accomplish things that lead us toward our goals. If we expect high standards of our coworkers, we can encourage and help them toward their goals. Results: an awesome work team with a great reputation among both colleagues and customers.
These are realistic expectations, however, based on what can actually be found and accomplished by the people attempting them. They are based on knowledge of who you have on your team, what their abilities are, and what their potential is. It is based on knowledge of how people work together, what motivates and encourages them, and what they get excited about.
Unrealistic expectations lead to trouble. It doesn’t matter if it is at work, with your kids, parents, significant other or pet. If it isn’t based in knowledge and reality, you’re screwed. You will hope and expect and wait and get frustrated -then angry, then desperate. It’s not pretty. And some of the fault is yours. You’re expecting something that isn’t possible in a current situation.
That’s not to say change isn’t possible – of course it is. But often for change to occur, awareness needs to be raised. Sometimes, expectations need to change. And sometimes, neither one is possible.
What does this have to do with the library? Here it is: I’ve had people say over and over, “I always call the library because you know all the answers.” It makes us feel really good – instant gratification for the FGL, but - it isn’t true! Librarians know how to search, and we connect people with information. If we don’t have it, we connect them with someone who might.
These unreasonable expectations lead to disappointment. An older man came in and asked me for a telephone book. We have many - from other cities, other states, and a few from other countries - Canada and Mexico.
“No, none of those will do,” he said. “I want one for Turkey.”
“I can check the internet for you,” I offered. “What city did you want?”
“I want a book for Turkey,” he insisted impatiently.
“The whole country?” I asked. “In one book?”
He nodded his head smugly. I could just hear him thinking, “Finally! I thought these people knew everything!”
“I don’t think they make them like that, sir. Turkey’s a pretty big place, with lots of cities.”
He clearly thought I was stupid, but made one more try. “Someone must have one. Do you know where ELSE I could look?” he asked.
I gave him the number of the closest place I could think of: the Turkish embassy in Chicago. Good luck, ambassadors. That will be one interesting phone call.