As the 2016 Terry College of Business Young Alumni of the year, I am honored and humbled by this award. I can honestly say that my reality has thus far exceeded my expectations which, quite frankly, means I could not be happier. I have an amazing family with my beautiful wife and two wonderful children, a thriving business, and incredibly impactful roles shaping our community in Atlanta and within the Terry College of Business.
There is an interesting equation that I often think of when coaching teammates, mentoring students or working with non-profit organizations. It’s one I certainly credit for my current success:
Happiness = Reality – Expectations
Our ability to exceed expectations in family, business, community, etc. determines our happiness with the outcome. For example, if I hand my son two cookies and expect him to eat both but instead he ends up sharing one with his little sister, then his generosity has exceeded my expectations and made me happy. In business, if we set reasonable goals and exceed them, our team is happier.
We are prone as a society to build phenomenally great expectations for ourselves based on social norms and our observations of others. Social media like Facebook and Instagram has made comparing ourselves to others that much more of a common practice. With expectations being so great, we need to instead focus on finding ways to achieve greater reality and results.
I recently gave a speech which included advice to a graduating group of extremely impressive seniors at UGA’s Terry College of Business. I highlighted four focuses that might improve their chances of exceeding expectations and separate them from the pack over their first 10 years in the workplace:
- Work harder/smarter/better than everyone else.
- Be impactful, not just present in everything that you do whether that’s meetings, boards, whatever.
- Do What is Right
- Operate with a firm moral compass pointing to “right” at all times.
- Be Real
- You will gain respect from being authentic and genuine as opposed filling the air with BS.
I believe there is a very clear delineation between the folks who live these values and the ones who don’t. The people whom I enjoy building organizations with, spending my leisure time with and brainstorming with, do these things at extraordinarily high levels. These people are blowing the doors off expectations by creating incredible realities that they might never have thought possible.
With great honor comes great expectations and responsibility. I look forward to the challenge of exceeding expectations again over the next many decades. Along the way, I will look to connect with and work with people who are generally happy, reality over-achievers who are out there living with similar values to my own.