Children play at the beach. A focused view shows a boy looking toward a group of boys playing in front of him.

The Dangers of Expectations – Do NOT Pass to Your Running Back

Listen to the podcast

OJ Simpson can’t catch a football. Heisman Trophy winner, MVP, Athlete of the Year, OJ Simpson. I was completely BLOWN AWAY to learn this while watching an ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. OJ is not only one of the best running backs in the history of football, he is considered to be one of the best athletes of all time. I understand that not being able to catch a football was the least of Orenthal’s issues off the field, but for the purposes of this metaphor, I’m just using him to demonstrate a point. 

And for those of you who aren’t familiar with the sport of football: 

You hand the ball off to a running back to bring it up the field.

You pass the ball to a wide receiver once they’ve run up the field. 

This means that as long as you handed OJ the ball, and didn’t ask him to catch it, chances were he would tear up the field and very possibly score a touchdown. This news got me thinking. I have people in my life who are running backs and people in my life who are wide receivers. Have I spent countless hours throwing to my running backs and handing off to my wide receivers?

Absolutely. But why? Why do I keep running the same play over and over again? Expectations. I have this vision of who and what I think the people in my life should be. They can prove who they are over and over, yet I continue to assign them the wrong position, completely disregarding past performances. What’s even more absurd is that, again and again, I’m mystified when the pass to the running back is incomplete.

Of course, it’s my prerogative to continue to expect from others what I know they can’t give me, but that sounds a lot like blaming people for my unhappiness. And on a deeper level, what bothers me about this behavior is what it does to the players on my team. That constant disappointment in someone’s performance only leads to shame. I shouldn’t make the running back tell me he can’t catch the football. That’s my work. My work is to know my team and to play to everyone’s strengths rather than their weaknesses.

When I feel let down by someone in my life, I have to look at my side of the street. Did I expect something from someone incapable of giving it to me? If so, that’s on me, not them. And just because he’s my husband, or she’s my sister, or they’re my kids, doesn’t mean they can catch a football. If I rely on different players on my team to help support me through the game, I open all my relationships up to more compassion. If I lower my expectations for everyone around me (including myself) I open my life up to a whole new kind of joy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

    Welcome to my blog! Here you can read about what’s on my mind as I try my best to recover from screaming at my kids and nagging the bejesus out my husband.

    Join TeamConfessions, a.k.a. "TeamC"—the posts are super short—you’ve got this. 

    Looking for something specific?


    From the Archives

    Share Everywhere:

    Ready to join me?

    I would love for you to join me as I work to undo these old patterns and evolve to create a more serene and accepting existence. (And you should know that I still want to ear flick the little knuckleheads {this includes my husband} when they don’t rinse a dish before putting it in the dishwasher — always a work in progress.)
    mdm light green icon logo
    Confessions of a recovering
    micromanaging - perfectionist - martyr

    Join TeamConfessions