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Center for Enlightened Leadership

A Majority of One

Robert W. Cole

Robert W. Cole
Managing Editor
and Senior Associate

I awake, still. At peace. A pond without a breeze to riffle the water. In these moments before the day begins, as I consider whether I can write about something as elusive to me as expectations, the words of Lao-Tzu sift through my mind:

There is no need to run outside
For better seeing,
Nor to peer from a window. Rather abide
At the center of your being;
For the more you leave it, the less you learn.
Search your heart and see.
If he is wise who takes each turn:
The way to do is to be.

Be. Be still. Be centered.

I know little of expectations. I have become aware recently that many people conflate expectations and beliefs, whereas I had always considered them separate constructs. I have beliefs; they guide my behavior (on a good day). How are those beliefs to be thought of as expectations? Expectations imposed by others, or by society, or by religions, come from without. I am, and fiercely, an inner-directed person.

I’ve always felt that I made up my life and whatever I am as I went along. With the God-spirit as my center (for which I am grateful every day), I continue to do so. I have spent much of my life since childhood, for self-protective reasons, closed off rather deliberately from the expectations of others. Emily Dickinson’s words come to mind: “The Soul selects her own Society.” My father once scolded me that I considered myself “a majority of one.” I guess so. From an early age, my soul set out to protect me.

My tendency is not to recognize the expectations of others. Too often, I’ve found, they have much more to do with the person doing the expecting than they do with me. I trust myself to do what needs to be done, and to do whatever it may be in a way that heeds my own standards of excellence.

An expectation-oriented chap might say, then, that I must have very high expectations for myself. Damned if I know—I don’t speak that language.

Be in peace.

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