Something the late, great tennis start Arthur Ashe used to argue all the time: If you demand more from people, people will rise to meet the higher standards. You can get what you insist upon. So don't sell people's capacity to do the right thing short. People do summon their best selves when it's required of them.
I not only believe in what Arthur Ashe said but I have seen it in my life as well as the livewss of many others. I have a friend who, in his limited spare time, is a personal trainer. I was training to run in a 12 man relay time a few months ago and asked him to help me set up a strenghts training plan. He went to my gym with me a few times to help me figure out how to use the equipment and what worked best for my body. I was amazed at the things he could get me to do. I did more reps, lifted more, had more endurance, and much more flexibility when he was asking for it then I had even been able to do on my own. He had high expectations for me and I rose to them.
People have a way of rising to expectations. There is something in us that wants to succeed. Through the years of working with teenagers I am continually amazed at what happens when expectations are raised and what happens when there is not expectations.
As a young Seminary (religion) Teacher I went to a Church Education System (CES) AKA Seminaries and Institutes training. To this day I remember the way the spirit touched me as to the truth of the words that Elder Eyring was teaching me. In an inspiring talk, "Raising Expectations," Elder Eyring said,
In the days ahead, the Lord will raise the spiritual bar again and again. And our youth will rise higher and higher to more than clear that rising expecation. They will make the choices to receive the promised spiritual outpouring deep in their hearts. Ours sons and daughters will prophesy, and our young men shall see visions. The questions for us are these: Will those young people feel by what we have said and done that we expected it? And with the Lord say tha twe rose to the best we could be an that He expected us to show them how? I have assurance that we will rise to that expectation.
I absolutely love teaching youth/teenagers, in any capacity. I love being an adolescent therapist. I learn so much from the youth I serve and I'm trying to have high expectations for them. In turn, they hold high expectations of me!
I sometimes wonder if I hold high enough expectations for myself? I think it might be time to raise the expectations.