It's Expectations That Bring Disappointment

At least ten years ago, we had a guest speaker at church who gave a talk entitled “It's Expectations That Bring Disappointment.” The title made a big impression on me because I have thought of it, and used that quote, many times since.

And I thought of it again tonight as I watched my beloved New England Patriots go down in defeat in Superbowl XLII to the New York Giants 17-14. The Patriots, as nearly all of you must know, were on the verge of becoming the first team in NFL history to go 19-0 and the first team since 1972 to go undefeated. But they already had set many, many records, both as a team and individually. And their final record of 18-1 is in itself historic, as no other team had ever won that many games.

So why are Patriots fans disappointed? And why are Giants fans, whose team finished 14-6, so elated. Obviously, it's all about expectations. The Patriots, you see, were supposed to beat the Giants by about 13 points. So was it a disappointing season? My answer is NO, although tonight, at least, it feels like it.

So what lessons can we boomers take from this as we seek to “get the best out of the rest of our lives”?


For one thing, KEEP OUR EXPECTATIONS REASONABLE. If I had convinced myself that the Patriots were invincible, I would be heartbroken tonight. But if I looked at the Patriots-Giants regular season game, which the Patriots won by only three points, it was obvious that the Giants could compete with the Pats, and in fact matched up very well with them.

Let me give you a personal example. I love softball. I played on a team for about ten years, and then, when they broke up, I stayed in touch with the game by umpiring for another seven, before “retiring.” A couple of years ago, in the spring, one of my friends convinced me to come out of retirement. His team needed a pitcher (my old position) who could throw strikes, and when I tried out the old arm, I found out I still can.

I should point out here that I am 61 years old and this is not a senior league. In fact, my convincing friend was the second oldest on the team, at 48! The rest of the players were mostly in their twenties and thirties. So here were my expectations:

1. Not to get hit by any line drives! (they come faster every year, it seems:-)
2. Have some fun.
3. Not to get hit by any line drives!

By the end of the season, mission accomplished... As a bonus, I also got to know a whole bunch of new guys. And I hit pretty well too, but that was icing on the cake, as I have no illusions about being a star athlete. But in my years of softball, especially umpiring, I've seen many who do. Which brings up the only other quote I remember from that message at church:

“In order to become DISILLUSIONED, you first have to be ILLUSIONED.”

So I think that guy at at church was right. It really is all about expectations.


The second lesson to be learned from SuperBowl XLII is FINISH STRONG. Some of the Patriots and their fans won't sleep well for a while, not because they lost a game this season, but because they lost the LAST game. But there's an expression in the playoffs of most sports that only ONE TEAM wins its last game, which in an elimination playoff system is, of course, true.

And I'm also a college football fan. The way that system works, you can often lose a game and still win the national championship. But the expression in college football is, “If you're going to lose, lose early.” (in the season, that is). If you lose late in the season, it's still fresh in the memory of the all important "poll voters."


Thankfully our odds are much better as we enter into the end game of life. In fact, there are many advantages of being in end game, which I write about in Platinum Living in a chapter called, you guessed it, “End Game.” This chapter is posted in full at, and uses a chess analogy. But whether you want to use that chess analogy, or my football examples, we're surely entering either the second half or possibly the fourth quarter of life. We've made our all important halftime adjustments, and the game is still on the line.

My personal mission is to get to the end without regret, having given my all. And the purpose of this web site is to help you get there as well. And THAT is no illusion :-) Bob


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