Expectation and Belief: A Winning Combination

One of the most effective ways to help others build confidence is through expectation and belief. There is no more powerful demonstration of the accuracy of this statement than that given in the 60-Minutes piece entitled The Monroe Doctrine (opens in a new link).

Dr. Lorraine Monroe employed two strategies in helping her students achieve results well beyond what might have been expected from kids living below poverty standards in New York’s Harlem district. Those two strategies were expectation and belief.


Dr. Monroe expected her students to be successful beyond what they might have dreamed on their own. She not only communicated the process for achieving the success she expected of them, she expected them to follow the process on a daily business.

She did not tolerate excuses. She was well aware of how easy it is for we humans to find ways to excuse ourselves from what we need to do to be successful. She repeatedly reminded her students that the fact that they lived in poverty, or in homes where the parents were addicts struggling with their addiction, did not define who they were. Nor did their environment alter the potential each student had for achieving success at the highest levels. 

These are the reasons why she reiterated her expectations on a daily basis, as needed, to keep her students focused on developing habits that would assure their success. And, as you saw, the successes were phenomenal.

Yet, expectation is only half of the formula; the other is belief.


Dr. Monroe also expressed her belief in her students’ ability to achieve whatever they desired. This is such an essential element for a variety of reasons. Two of the most compelling are:

  1. We tend to discount our abilities.
  2. We don’t want to disappoint those who believe in us.

Discounting abilities

How often have you taken for granted the things you accomplish because they come naturally to you? How often has someone commented on an ability you possess…an ability that you were unaware that you possessed?

It’s part and parcel of our human nature that what we accomplish readily comes so naturally that we assume everyone possesses the same ability. The kids in Dr. Monroe’s school would naturally think of themselves as being at a disadvantage to kids from wealthier families. Dr. Monroe’s admonition that this isn’t true, expressed daily in her actions as well as her words, helped her students avoid discounting their capabilities.

Disappointing a believer

Who among us wants to disappoint someone who believes in us? We treasure the fact that someone sees potential in us that we don’t see ourselves. We treasure even more highly the fact that their beliefs are so strong that they encourage us in our moments of disappointment.

It’s through their beliefs that we gain the strength and courage to continue the pursuit of our dream despite the inevitable challenges we face along the way. And when we finally make the dream a reality, we feel that it is a shared accomplishment; one that we are thrilled to share with those whose beliefs in us were an integral part of our success.

How can you employ Dr. Monroe’s doctrine for yourself and your kids?

For you

Surround yourself with people who believe in you. For these are the people who expect you to succeed, will hold you accountable to the commitments you’ve made and be there for you in the dark hours of doubt and frustration. 

Be kind and respectful to naysayers, but limit your exposure to them for they are likely to foster doubts and fears that will, at a minimum, slow your progress; at worst, cause you to give up on your dream.

One of the things you’ll find is that during the dark hours of doubt and frustration, you’ll recall the encouraging words of those who believe in you. Upon recalling those words, you’ll gain the strength to continue the pursuit of your dream confident in the knowledge that it is possible. In the event that recalling isn’t sufficient, you know exactly whom to call to get the added support and encouragement you need to continue pursuing your dream.

Finally, be one who employs both expectation and belief in your dealings with others. The more people you help in this way, the more confident you become in your own abilities to produce whatever result you desire.

For our kids

First, and foremost, live this message. As the kids in your life see how confident and successful you are because you expect great things of yourself and you believe in yourself, they’ll mimic that behavior. If, despite living the message, your kids struggle to believe in themselves, share The Monroe Doctrine video with them so that they too can see what’s possible. 

Then discuss the power of the combined elements of expectation and belief. You’ll be able to share with them the successes of those whom you’ve helped by letting the person know that you not only expected them to be successful, but that you believed they would be. As kids become aware of the power they possess to help others enjoy success, they’ll become more confident in their abilities as well. 

Let others know that you love them by sharing this blog post. They’ll appreciate that you care.

I love hearing your thoughts and experiences, please share your thoughts in a comment.

If you’d like to enjoy great confidence, check out our Confidence Self-Study programs (opens in a new link). 

If you’d like to enrich the lives of others by teaching them to be more confident, check out our Teaching Confidence Instructor Certification program (opens in a new link).

Follow dfurtwengler:

Latest posts from

2 Responses

  1. bill prenatt

    Dale, Once again your article provides a remarkable insight into working with people. I try to practice a little different slant on your article.

    It’s in a 3 step process of setting clear expectations, inspecting what I expect, and providing for consequences (good or critical) for the outcome. This type of system keeps everyone on the same page and minimizes surprises!

    Always appreciate your wisdom!

    • dfurtwengler

      Bill, I like it. A simple and straight forward approach to creating alignment. Thanks for sharing Bill.

Leave a Reply

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