Expectancy vs. Expectation – Book Excerpt

spaingrapesExpectancy is a type of subtle power, the type that attracts what you desire. Expectation, on the other hand, is a make-it-happen- at-all-cost type of power, which is a form of force. Many of us believe that power and force are synonymous.There’s a distinct advantage to understanding the differences and employing subtle power in all your life activities.

Think of how you feel when someone tries to coerce you into buying something. Don’t you immediately feel some resistance? Compare this to a time when you felt as if you made a connection with a person; they listened to your needs, and you were actually drawn to make the purchase. There’s little resistance from this approach. In the first case, the person is trying to make their goal regardless of your wishes. In the second approach, they’re inclusive and genuinely desire a win-win outcome.This is a major distinction.

Expectancy, like power, is inclusive, whereas expectation is limited to only one outcome.
Staying with this example, here are some behavioral distinctions that show what we mean.The first behavior is probably stuck in the expectation that “I have to meet my goal or else I may lose my job,” or “I won’t make my bonus,” or “I’ll look weak among my peers.” It’s fearful and filled with doubt and anxiety.The second approach comes from a knowing that “people are drawn to me, I always make my goals, and somehow everything always works out for me.”This is a confident and powerful way to be. Can you see how one approach is more attractive than the other? Expectancy attracts, and expectation limits. Additionally, one approach is much easier to live with and requires less energy than the other.

Here is a comparison of behaviors to help you recognize when you’re in expectancy vs. expectation. We suggest you refer back to this list when you need clarity.

Expectation Meets Expectancy in the Movie Bottle Shock
Bottle Shock is based on the true story of Chateau Montelena during the early days of winemaking in California. Jim Barrett’s intent is to make a world-class wine, and he won’t give up until he has achieved his dream.The movie starts with Jim telling his loan officer (who is processing his third loan), “It’s not about getting it done – it’s about getting it done right; it’s about making the best goddamn wine we can.” That’s expectancy, because he wouldn’t be going deeper in debt if he wasn’t completely certain that this was the next step to realizing his dream.


Steven Spurrier is a British wine merchant in Paris who establishes a publicity event that he expects will get himself known in Paris. He’s not selling any wines, and he hopes this event will turn things around for him. Spurrier decides to establish the “Judgment of Paris,” a wine- tasting event that compares California wines to the finest French wines. He fully expects the Californian wines to lose.

As Jim Barrett stays in the anger that his dream isn’t realized, it actually makes the journey longer and he doesn’t see the opportunities in front of him. He switches from anger to the fear that he might fail. He’s not happy and is stuck in a groove. His old expectations get in the way and slow him down. Jim is fortunate that his son Bo is able to recognize the opportunities when he can’t see them. If Bo hadn’t been there to step in and seize the opportunities, Jim’s dream would have been delayed. No matter what happens, Bo isn’t willing to give up. Through this film, we are reminded how much we need each other, how much we need a community around us, especially when we desire to realize big dreams. No great accomplishment is ever an entirely solo act.

Jim Barrett describes the key to a successful grape:“You want to limit the irrigation because it makes the vines struggle and intensifies the flavor.A comfortable grape, a well-watered fertilized grape, grows into a lazy ingredient of a lousy wine.” Jim’s wisdom about growing grapes is similar to what’s required for a fulfilling life. While the journey can seem challenging, the process is perfect.

We get to see many examples of synchronicity throughout the film. On his own, Jim Barrett couldn’t have dreamed up the outcome that positioned his wine in a competition with the finest wines in France. Nor could he have created this event. It came to him in the most unexpected way. Money comes his way just when he needs it.

How Do You Stay In Expectancy and Achieve Your Goals?
By now you may be thinking, “Oh great, so now I stay in expectancy and I’ll never get anything done – you’ve got to be kidding!”The simple answer is: Be clear on your intent, stay open to all possibilities, and be curious. Life changes come at us so quickly sometimes that we get disoriented and forget we’ve fallen back into expectation.When you recognize that the traits of expectation have returned, remember that you’re already moving in the right direction. Now what do you do? Start focusing on the wins in your life, big or small. Failures are just stepping-stones.


About David Barnes

Co-Founder at Peace Of Mind Overtures and co-author of Taming Your Dragons: Making Peace With Your Emotions and It's Just Commerce: Returning Balance to Business.