The blog this week was written by Jennifer Goodwill, Community Broker at The Arcadia Institute. Expectation, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is a belief that something will happen, or is likely to happen. A feeling or belief about how successful or good something or someone will be.

In the work we do through Community Brokering, we are very aware of how our expectations impact those with whom we work. When we are first getting to know an individual, we are intentional about discovering what interests them and what they feel they are good at doing. We spend time finding out more about their past and current experiences, as well as their connections within the community. We spend this upfront time with individuals, because we believe we need to focus on the individual and start building their future based on where they are today.

A young man enjoyed volunteering as part of a group at a retirement community while he was a student at a local school. Upon graduation, his volunteering came to an end. Because he enjoyed the experience, we decided to reach out to the retirement community to see if there was an opportunity for him to volunteer on his own. It turns out he had built close relationships with some of the staff and residents. They welcomed the opportunity to have him continue volunteering with them. He started working in the dining room, which was a different experience from when he volunteered as a student. It required training and time to learn new routines. The volunteer coordinator felt it was her responsibility to support him each week as he learned the new skills; However, this proved challenging because of her other responsibilities. We then spent time with him while he was working, offering our support. We observed that the other staff was easily able to provide guidance and help as he needed it. When we shared this with the volunteer coordinator, she talked to the staff and found that they were happy to provide him with the training he needed. It didn’t need to be her responsibility.

This experience started with our expectation that his volunteering did not need to end just because he had graduated from school and could no longer volunteer with a group. By helping him to maintain a connection he had already made, he was able to follow his interest, and he was able to keep the relationships he had already built. And, once the volunteer coordinator invited the staff to help with training, she was able to let go of the expectation that it had to be all her responsibility to provide support. Not only did this make her schedule more manageable, but I believe it allowed the staff to develop a deeper relationship with this new member of their team.

Expectations shape the way that we approach our future. They influence how we set goals for ourselves and they set the tone for our relationships with others in letting them know how we expect to be treated. We need to believe in growing the good and have the expectation that better things are yet to come if we seek out the opportunities.