July 27. “Husbands, if you treat your wives like a thoroughbred, chances are good you won’t end up with a nag. Wives, if you treat your husband like a champ, chances are even better that you won’t end up with a chump.” (Zig Ziglar)
Since childhood I have been taught the golden rule – to treat others as you want them to treat you. I have tried to live by this rule in all parts of my life. I work to treat others with respect and dignity. I show care, love and respect for others. Even the way that I hold others accountable for their actions speaks to how I want to be treated in life.
I am not perfect at this, as no one is. I stumble and make mistakes, and sometimes I treat people badly. When I do, I work hard to make amends with that person and to do better as we go on.
Some years back a person told me about something she considered to be the platinum rule. That is to treat others as they wish to be treated. It is in doing this that we truly can say that we are meeting that person’s needs and desires. The truth is that I may want to be treated in life differently than someone around me, and that’s fine because we are all different. But, if I assume that everyone wants to be treated the same as me, then I am, in effect, molding everyone else to my desires. Molding others to my way of thinking isn’t really the goal, and that’s why I came to like the idea of the platinum rule.
Today’s quote is along the lines of the golden and platinum rules. Here Ziglar is reminding wives and husbands to treat their spouses well. In this quote, he takes the idea to a different place as he adds in expectations as well. Our expectations of thoroughbreds and champs are different from those we have for nags and chumps. Not only do we treat them better, but we also expect that they will be stellar in all that they do.
I am reminded of a story I heard many years ago. It was about a middle-school teacher who was fresh out of college, and in her first year with a new school. When she received her class list, she noted that next to the students’ names were numbers. She didn’t know the context of the numbers, and didn’t want to appear foolish by asking, so she thought about it and decided that they must be the IQs of the students – and they were quite high. She felt blessed that she’d been given a class full of young prodigies.
She set about her lesson planning, and her approach to the class as though she were teaching geniuses. She created challenging assignments, and held them to high standards. She praised them often and helped any one of them that needed it. At the end of the first marking period the principal paid this teacher a visit. The teacher had noted that some of the students were performing very well, as she expected, and some were lagging a bit. She was worried that the principal was going to get on her case about the lagging scores of these academic stars.
The principal sat and asked the teacher what she was doing in the classroom with her lessons. The teacher nervously answered and gave the details, still worried that she was going to be criticized. Finally the principal told her that she was amazed at the results. She told the teacher that all of the students in this class were performing well above their previous grades. She also told the teacher that there was a remarkable lack of discipline problems with this group which had not been the case in recent years.
The young teacher was dumbstruck. The principal saw the reaction and asked why she was surprised. The teacher told her boss that she thought all of these were the geniuses of the school. The principal let out a little chuckle and explained that these were all very average students, even at the lower end of average, and that they were all behavior problems in the past. The reason that this fresh-eyed teacher had them was that none of the other teachers wanted them in their classrooms, and put them on the newbie. But, what about their IQs? The principal chuckled again and explained that those weren’t IQs, they were locker numbers.
I am sure this is most likely just a bit of folklore, but the moral of this story is that when we treat people as though we expect excellence, then there is a very good chance that excellence is what we will get. If we treat people as though we expect them to fail, then fail they will.
I have been married for over 31 years. My wife and love and respect each other deeply. Whether consciously or not, we have learned to apply the platinum rule with each other, and do treat one another as that person wants to be treated. And, importantly, we expect the best out of each other. We both set the bar high for one another and lovingly work to help each other reach the heights.
I think this is a contributing factor to our success. I know for myself that I reach higher because I know that she expects me to be a champ, and I work to hit that level.
Today my reflection is on expectations. When I set my expectations high, I will get far better results than if I allow my expectations to be lowered. Whether those expectations are of myself or someone else, the results will be the same.