Day 10 – Managing Expectations

YES! I is 7.30 am, I hear the alarm, and I know immediately, without a doubt, it is day number 10! So only four full days left, as this day is already partially gone. I wake up with the excitement of a child that knows his birthday is coming, in four days. What is the reason why young children are always so super exciting about their birthday? Some kids can’t even catch any sleep the day before their birthday. Is it because they don’t know what they can expect from they day? How the day will look like? Who will come to visit? And who will bring what presents? Will they get the presents that they asked for? A kind of insecurity and fear, that they are afraid that they won’t get the presents that asked for. Resulting instead of a state of euphoria, in the state of a complete and utter disappointment. Or is the main reason, that you might feel it as day, in which you are the center of the day, as your chair will be decorated at school and at home. That people around you will sing for you, to celebrate the new year that has arrived for you, only for you. So you will feel exceptionally special, maybe like a king, a good king that is loved by its own people. The more birthdays you encounter and that you celebrate, their might still be some excitement left, but in general you know the drill. You know what to expect, and maybe more important what not to expect. For example, you can request a super expensive gift, but you know the odds of getting it, are not in your favour. Let’s go back to my current situation, what are my odds today for getting a delicious breakfast? There is a still a chance that my requested ‘steamed buns’ will arrive.


The morning started exceptionally good, although not the Taiwanese buns, but a Taiwan pancake filled with corn arrived. Better would be, if they had some condiments and sauces to enjoy them with, but despite that small glitch I feel content. After the breakfast, I was in doubt whether I should watch the press conference that was aired yesterday on the Dutch TV. The event was already announced a couple days ago. Probably the prime minister of The Netherlands would provide more information and additional measures to fight and combat the coronavirus in his country, my home country. Main reason for me, not wanting to watch it, is because probably all that will be said during the event, would not have any impact on my current stay in this hotel room. It would not change anything directly for me personally. On the other hand, for all the people over there, the new measures might have a significant impact on them, and because I am still in direct contact with many of them living there, it might make them feel that I am not concerned about them, than I don’t care about the people in The Netherlands, and that I am just a selfish person who is only focusing on his own quarantine, living under his own rock for 14 days. I think again about my situation, my personal 14 days 100% locked-down, and try how I feel, I feel strong, probably stronger than before I started this quarantine. I think the content of the message that the prime minister is going to convey, would probably not affect me in a negative way, and with this positive mindset I switch on the press conference as my in flight entertainment during my daily sports exercises.

Watching it, makes me again feel more connected with the people on the other side of this planet. I realize that I might be the only person watching this conference while jumping rope in quarantine hotel. The take away message for me is clear: 1) restaurants will be closed for some weeks; 2) no selling of alcohol after 10pm; and 3) wearing a mouth nose facial masks will probably be very soon mandatory for certain public places. Based on the relative numbers of people positively tested for the virus, probably those new measures are not a big surprise for everyone, although to be confronted by the message is a big slap in the face. Especially, if you realize that the reason for this so-called second wave, is due to the behavior of the people, lacking persistence to follow the advises that were set by the government some months ago. On the other hand, come on, what can you expect from society? If a government advises you to behave, it doesn’t automatically mean that they act like it. Of course, probably the majority understands the rules, and follows them. But there are always people that are against every rule set by an authority. And especially these recalcitrant group of people, ignoring the rules, is growing and growing during the last weeks worldwide. People are so different, and especially if you want to fight the so-called war on the virus, it makes the ‘marketing’ of your story difficult but nevertheless, super important. You need to manage the right expectations for the current situation. So based on the press conference, I have not a clear clue when we could enjoy again a good steak in a restaurant like I had about two weeks ago in The Netherlands. Of course, I heard that they expect that this partial lock-down will be released, but when, I heard, is uncertain. A lot of people can’t cope with that.

Think about training for a marathon, you know, wherever you are going to run it, the current official distance is always set at 42 km and 195 m. So you train for it! You know exactly how to take care of your energy, both physically and mentally, because you trained for it. You know for example, that if you are too fast in the first kilometer, you won’t have enough energy left in the last stage, and won’t finish. And finishing is the most important goal and probably your second goal is to run a personal record. Imagine the following situation: you are running, and feel like this will be your day for your personal record, and see the finish line in front of you. You give that additional power boost and run toward the line. And then, completely depleted with your last breath, you want to cross the finish line, but then, suddenly, someone has shifted the finishing line. And the speaker says, come one, just one kilometer, and again you run toward the line. And then again, the line is shifted etc etc. Of course, nobody can win this ever-moving finish line. Therefor, before you start to run, make sure you know exactly where the finish line is. So you can physically and mentally prepare for it. This ever-moving finish line example is my metaphor for the current way the world is handling this pandemic crisis. We started to run, by locking-down restaurants, school, hotels and much more, in the hope that we would finish within 6 months. But while running, we feel so confident about our stamina, that we even take a break while we have to run, and loose focus on the only thing that was important for us, to finish within 6 months. Never claim victory before you know you really won. Now, 6 months later there is no finish line here, it has been shifted to the future, and nobody tells us exactly where it is.

A complete different strategy, is a strategy that is being used many times at theme parks and other activities in which you need to wait such as the helpdesk from you local telecom provider. When you start getting in line, you will be notified about the average waiting time, for example 40 minutes. Let’s call it the promise.
You check your watch, so you know when it will be approximately your turn. You prepare for the long wait, like preparing for the marathon. Surprisingly, after 30 minutes, it is your turn! You double check your watch and indeed, it was only 30 minutes! Most of us feel happy, feel that the company and the people in line did a good job! Yes, some us might feel betrayed, but in general this strategy works very well. Under promise, and over deliver. Like this case: promise you will be helped within 40 minutes, and over deliver, by helping the customer after 30 minutes waiting. Big advantage is that people in line feel in general happy about it, and not less important, if due to some unforeseen reasons, the person needs to wait 40 minutes, it probably would not cause any issue. Because the company still kept its promise.

Loads of managers, leaders and other people in general overpromise. “Yes, I will finish the report tomorrow! or “No problem, we will make at least 10% more revenues than the year before!”, or “I definitely will loose 3 kg within 3 weeks without any problem!”. Most of the time it is because people are either overconfident, unexperienced or don’t think and calculate through if those goals are really realistic. I feel, that with this pandemic crisis, most governments are also overpromising, and underdelivering. I understand, as a leader, especially if you want to be liked, because you want to be voted for in the next election, it is very very tempting to overpromise. However, when you fail for a couple of times to meet your targets, your goals, people will loose trust in you. Of course, you might have very valid reasons for not reaching your target, but in general people don’t really listen to that message. The thing that sticks the most, is that you, as a person, could not keep your promise.

So, in general we need to make sure we are setting realistic goals for ourselves, a target from which we know we can reach. The target needs to be a little challenging, but not too much, otherwise it will be an unrealistic target. Especially for that last category, if you set a target that is unrealistically high, and already fail on the first step towards the goal, you know and more importantly, you will feel the goal is out of your reach. Thing about loosing weight, loosing 3 kg within 3 week could be a target, but cut it down to smaller pieces, like 1 kg per week, 145 gram per day. But then, how to reach that goal, what are going to do to reach that goal? Just eat less? But how much? You need to have a plan. Goals without a plan are just dreams. If you cannot make a plan by yourself, or you want to have a second opinion, look around you, there are probably a lot of people that like to help you. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel, make use of the abundant amount of information and resources out there.

People and so, also governments do make mistakes, and I truly hope that when they make a mistake they will also learn from it, to improve themselves.

Before I started my 14 days quarantine, I was expecting that it would be almost like going through a hell, whatever that might be. I prepared for the worst. I prepared for it very cautiously, and had a plan what I could do during the day, all kinds of options. Number one priority, is finishing, to survive those 14 days. Now at day 10, I feel those past days were a piece of cake, and it can’t imagine that I will give up. And even feel that everyone can do it! But wait, I feel overconfident now, even a little arrogant and cocky. I feel like this, because I have a plan that I stick to. I should not give up this plan, stick to the rules I set for myself during this stay, otherwise I really might not finish, and will not keep the promise, my promise.

Talking about promise, every day I ask the System to provide me with a couple of water bottles that they usually bring within two hours. In general they bring eight small bottles, each 600 cc. Today again, I asked for water, and after a while I hear a loud sound outside my door, after the usually knocking on the door. I open it, and I see a big box on the red cabinet. I pick up the heavy box and transfer it to the carpet, the sports and activity center. It feels a little bit like a birthday gift. I remove the cover and see beautifully aligned, 24 bottles of water looking to me. When a Taiwanese gives you a promise, trust them, they keep the promise, and like today, they delivered, they overdelivered, they delivered 24 bottles of water.

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