Another draft from a while ago that needs to get published. It’s not well organized but I am sure you’ll get the point.
My beautiful wife sometimes tells me that I am a “glass half empty” type. She’s always right and I admire people who can see every glass as half full. My glasses always have the potential to be full but are never filled. Even when the glass is filled up, somehow it grows and still ends up as at least partly empty. The question is about expectations for me. Is it wrong to have high expectations? Is it acceptable to just sit back and enjoy the current reality all around us? Is it sufficient to accept the mediocre or the part filled glasses that are everywhere? What about the glasses that have holes and are leaking and no matter how much you fill them, are still mostly empty?
If she means my life would be easier if I didn’t see the whole glass (or the entire potential), but instead considered the entire glass to be the part that’s filled, then I would agree with her. (In this case all glasses would always be full and I would be crazy). Does this motivate me? Yes. Does it demotivate others? Maybe. But I cannot help seeing enormous possibilities all around me.
Let’s take a computer system in production. Would we find it acceptable if the system of our credit card processing company worked only 60% of the time? Wouldn’t we look for another provider whose system worked at least 90% of the time? Why not expect that every transaction be properly processed 100% of the time. How about if the e-mail system randomly decided the e-mails to send and outright deleted some of our outgoing mail? Would we see this as “half empty or half full”? Half fullers may respond with… “at least you have electricity to even run a computer – let alone have an e-mail that works sometimes or a credit card that you can use.”
My only challenge is when the glasses are in a zero sum situation. Who is to decide which one should be filled at the expense of others? Is this always the case? Most likely but unless we can see the glasses as having potential to be filled, we cannot begin to think about the possible trade off opportunities or have healthy conversations about choices.
Since writing this post, some things have changed. It’s easier to accept the world around us when we stop expecting too much from it. It’s appropriate to expect from ourselves what we can deliver and to hope others will do the same. The question isn’t whether the glass is half empty or half full. The question is whether we are looking at the right glass.