Be Accountable for Setting and Receiving Clear Expectations | Fundamental #15

Holding a 10-year-old to account is no easier than doing the same with a mature adult. Both will get slippery near the finish line if enthusiasm wanes or if they can find a loophole.

Ergo, being accountable for setting clear expectations in both cases is essential.

My son, Gabriel, customarily summarizes his understanding of tasks when given new or complicated chores.

It’s a practice I encourage despite the tendency for it to test both our patience. However, this little extra conversation on the front-end pays off as it usually saves a ton of rework closer to completion of whatever he’s assigned.

The second part of this fundamental, “Be clear about what’s expected of you” brings to light the unsavory memory of a lesson learned in 8th-grade football.

As a split end with the Murchison Matadors I was fast but not big enough to get much playing time.

So, in the heat of an important district game, I was surprised to hear Coach yell, “Morris! You’re going in!”

Excitedly I put on my ill-fitted helmet as he told me the play I was to relay to the awaiting huddle at midfield.

Sidebar – What you should know is that at 13 years old, I was clearly playing football for the sole purpose of getting young girls’ attention. I was not in it for the sport.

Thus, the play he barked toward my unstudied ear ricocheted far away as he hastily pushed me onto the field for the next critical play.

With the clock ticking I stumbled toward my teammates with no idea what to tell them.

Terrified I looked up to see the already disappointed look on their faces as #84 trotted out.

When I arrived, I made something up. Needless to say, I chose wrong and my football career was thankfully truncated.

The silver lining still shines today as the painful memory of not knowing what’s expected of me has driven me to a habitual landslide of questions for clarity when assigned a task: a practice which no doubt annoys some, but does solidify the needed confidence that I do understand what’s expected of me.

I never want to run out on that field again without knowing the play.


Can you think of a time when you’ve tolerated unclear expectations?

And did that muddy the process of producing results?

I’d love to hear about it.




Fundamental #15 | Be Accountable for Setting and Receiving Clear Expectations

Make sure your expectations are clear and what people hear is what you are asking. Be clear about what’s expected of you.

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