While writing the first line of my first blog of the New Year — after a sufficiently long period of hibernation — I’m already feeling that I may be dealing with the topic that is not in my realm of expertise. Not that I claim any great proficiency in many areas anyway!
However, given this irresistible need to get my stray thoughts out in the open, and the fact that my readers have always been kind to me, I’m allowing myself to go on and complete this blog.
Self fulfilling Prophecy — this expression has been haunting me for some time, of late. In the past, I have very sparingly used this concept in my addresses, thinking it to be having limited applications. However, recently I’ve taken recourse to it more frequently — sometimes consciously and sometimes involuntarily as well.
Let me give you an example. Just last week, I was speaking to some fellow professionals when I used it to explain how organisations can lose an opportunity of hiring potential top talent, just because interviewers reject such candidates based on their perception and not the real merit. I’m sure, we all have seen some candidates walking into the interview room with an inappropriate attire. Take this case where a candidate walks in with casual attire. The first perception s/he creates is that his/her approach to work is also going to be equally casual. The interviewer, right in the first five minutes of the interaction, makes it a foregone conclusion that casually attired person will have a casual work ethic and hence won’t succeed in the job interview. The interviewer then creates interview conditions accordingly. It is obvious that the candidate doesn’t finally make the grade! All this happens because of the interviewer’s early conclusion ‘this candidate will fail’. I find it as a good example where the concept of self fulfilling prophecy has a direct linkage.
Although my readers are highly initiated, it will only be proper for me to formally lay down the concept yet again.
Self fulfilling prophecy can be explained as positive or negative expectations or outcomes about circumstances, events or people that may affect a person's behaviour towards them. And such behaviour that he or she creates (mostly unknowingly), invariably leads to the situations in which those expectations/outcomes come true. A simple example will suffice here: A homemaker who expects her maid to be disloyal, will treat her in a way that will be responded with disloyal behaviour on part of the maid!
The concept is very similar to The Pygmalion effect or the "teacher-expectancy effect". The effect is named after George Bernard Shaw's play Pygmalion, in which Professor Henry Higgins makes a bet that he can teach a poor flower girl to speak and act like an upper-class lady, and succeeds.
So, we have seen both positive and negative examples of the concept.
While thinking about this subject, I can’t resist but to bring to my readers’ attention yet one more very powerful example of how this can affect each one of us — the way we pursue goals, the way we plan our actions around those, the way we succeed and the way we fail! etc….
This real life story is based on a premise that when we focus on failure, we actually lead ourselves to the failure.
Following highlighted words are not mine:
Years ago, the Flying Wallendas, a family of high wire performers, received a lot of attention for their death-defying feats. But tragedy struck in 1978, when at age 73, Karl Wallenda, the patriarch of the family, fell to his death while attempting to walk a tightrope between two buildings in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
What many people don't know is that this incredibly skilled man, who'd completed thousands of successful wire walks in the past, had spent the three months preceding this attempt "thinking about falling".
A newspaper reporter, writing at the time of his death, commented, "When Karl Wallenda poured his energies into not falling, rather than into walking the tightrope, he was destined to fall."
In other words: A tight rope walker has a choice, whether to walk to the destination or try not to fall while walking!
What is the bottom-line for laymen like us?
Positive thinking is not just a romantic and unreal concept. It has a strong in-built power that drives people to achieve positive results.
Equally, negative thinking is also as real! And any pursuance of negative thoughts is sure to lead to failures.
Self-fulfilling prophecy will always exist, but it is for us to foretell — and most importantly resolve — what to practice!!