‘Treat a man as he is, and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be, and he will become what he is and should be.’
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Please don't blow!" by Armando Maynez
Unfortunate gender bias aside, I love this sentiment. The first limit on our capacity to act is our selves. If I believe I will fail, I am correct. If I believe I will succeed I may not be right, but at least I have given myself a chance. In the goals we set and our level of self-belief we are telling ourselves what we expect, and therefore what we believe we are capable of.
People rise or fall according to our expectations of them. Take the stereotypical teenager – hooded, music blaring, skateboard tucked under one arm. If she is surrounded by people who believe she is disrespectful, naiive, rude… what chance does she have of being anything but that? Conversely, if our young people are surrounded by adults who instead see flexibility, potential and courage, the we can raise a generation to be proud of.
People may rise to the challenge or they may fall short, but the key difference is opportunity. This is true of how parents treat their children, of how companies treat their employees, and of how friends treat each other. Only by believing that the best is possible can we ever hope to be given it – or to show it in ourselves.