Aké Satia is the Chief Vision Officer at Aké Satia, a Human Capital firm in the DC area focused on strengthening organizations by bolstering the intersection of people strategy and business strategy.



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The Birth of fresh Perspectives and new Expectations.

Happy first day of Spring 2023!

I don’t know about you, but I love this time of the year because of the season! Spring is my absolute favorite season because it signals rebirth and hope. And on a sunny spring day, it is pretty hard to harsh my mellow and rain on my parade. 😊
Opportunely, this is also the second week after my sabbatical. And I am devoting time to sharing lessons I learned from luminaries on my journey. You may check out last week’s write-up here: The Value of Rest and Rejuvenation – Blog – www.akesatia.com

As we start a new season of rebirth, it is an appropriate time to explore two ever-present and connected subjects: Perspectives and Expectations! To start, I have two questions for you!
What is an expectation? And what is the value of having expectations?
I have pondered these personally and professionally several times. Perhaps you have too.

Professionally, my interest in understanding the value of expectations stemmed from hearing managers dole out this advice to workers: Put your best effort into this project and trust your leadership to make the right decision. If you deserve a raise, I will fight for you to get one. Or sometimes, I would hear a business associate tell a client: When have I ever failed you? You can have confidence in my business acumen. Just go with my call! 

When people make such statements, they set an expectation. And looking beyond the many words, one would realize that these are indirect pleas for blind trust – for a person to release their fears and anxiety and trust that everything will turn out just as it “should.”
Admittedly, there was a time, I believed such advice was worth its weight in gold. But I look at expectations through a different lens now. And when I took my sabbatical this year, I deliberately set expectations for the journey. I did so because I realized that my expectations could make the experience one for the books or a gross disappointment.

Know what you Seek.

My efforts to mindfully set my expectations for my sabbatical began with setting an intention for the journey. Specifically, what I hoped to get out of the experience. On this sabbatical, I intended to engage with luminaries who stir the imagination and inspire new ways of thinking. This intent might sound ethereal, so allow me to provide a little context.

I believe that luminaries are confident and humble and equally as enlightened as they are curious. Also, they can be found anywhere in the world. Therefore, I did not create a lavish agenda for my journey. And I tried to keep an open mind. To my delight, opportunities presented themselves serendipitously. But my open-mindedness was also put to the test.

To see a world through the lens of Others.

Last week, I mentioned visiting a small village/town in West Africa with neither running water nor electricity. I should add that the village/town has an infrastructure to enable electricity and running water. But once I arrived, like in a scene from Indiana Jones, the light bulbs suddenly went out, and the water stopped flowing. And I was left to navigate the terrain like Wonder Woman, which I succeeded in doing thanks to many kindhearted people.

Remarkably, a pregnant woman whom I regard as a sister fetched and carried many buckets of clean water on her head across busy roads for my use. It was a humbling display of service, and I was infinitely grateful! This sacrifice and others propelled me to dismiss many criticisms I harbored. After expressing some frustration at the scarcity of utilities, I also realized that my attempt to speak on behalf of the locals was not beneficial to them. Because they were aware of the challenges, had voiced their complaints to the authorities, and advocated for themselves. But every day, they chose to look beyond their plight as they navigated their days. And this enabled them not to despair. 

By choosing to gaze upon their world non-judgmentally, I adopted a different lens and began to admire their tenacity and hopefulness. And as I let go of my expectations of “right living,” gratitude welled, and I was overcome with joy.

Expectations in the Professional Sphere

As we all know, we have expectations professionally. And a worthy question is: what do we do with our expectations?
Before we go further, it might be beneficial to level set the definition of the word: expectation. An expectation is an emotional anticipation or belief of an occurrence that may take place in the future. The Psychology of Expectations (psychologs.com) This definition unlocks a vital insight: The past is a collection of memories filled with jubilation or regret but never anticipation. But the future is fueled by expectations and anticipation. And what we expect influences our emotions and actions.
This reality plays out in our lives, personally and professionally. And professionally, discontentment is often born of a disconnect in expectations between workers and employers.

Let us consider the familiar scenario of Pay Raises!

A worker who devotes extra time and strenuous effort to drive a high-priority project expects a reward – perhaps a pay increase or a promotion. However, his leadership decides to apportion the funds to other workers and projects. Upon learning this, the worker feels unacknowledged, expresses disappointment, and when there is no resolution, he decides to quit!
Our natural tendency might be to ascribe blame, but to whom? Such situations are often nuanced. As in the case above, one might see validity in either perspective – that of the organization or the worker.

Understandably, this is a situation most would rather avoid. And when it occurs, we might fall into the web of speculations and act based on opinions and emotions. But it is best not to opine endlessly or react in such cases. A better route is to seek a resolution. And coming to a resolution often starts with a conversation – a difficult conversation. Developing the skill of having difficult conversations is vital because many viable solutions do not necessarily allow everyone to get their way. However, thoughtful conversations can enable all to feel heard and understood and accept the decision.

A beneficial perspective on expectations

It is impossible to live an expectation-free life. And having expectations opens the door to disappointment. This reality could entice one to seek to avert pain by expecting nothing. But it is worth remembering that when we don’t have expectations, we forego the possibility of fulfillment.
Indeed, if fulfillment is born of actualized dreams and realized desires, how can one be fulfilled when she never dreamt or desired?

A well-lived life is a bold life. Humans always have expectations. And expectations are vital because they give us a reason to look forward – essentially, to live. Our opportunity is to increase our awareness of what we expect and why. And with eyes wide open, decide what we want to do and not do, in keeping with our values. 

Dear friend, I leave you with two questions I have pondered:
What expectations do you have for your life and the world around you? And how does your perspective affect your ability to realize your dreams and change the world for the better?

Until next time!

For you and to you,



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