We always compare performance on a relative basis. “Well, it’s better than it was yesterday…”

Toddlers, for example, seem like geniuses compared to the babies they used to be.

Some people around us have embraced a strategy of always lowering expectations so that their mediocre effort is seen as acceptable. Over time, we embrace the pretty good memo or the decent leadership moment, because it’s so much better than we feared.

And some? Some relentlessly raise expectations, establishing a standard that it’s hard to imagine exceeding. And then they do.

If you’ve been cornered into following, working with or serving someone in the first group, an intervention can be rewarding. For you and for the person trapped in this downward cycle.

Raising our expectations is a fine way to raise performance as well.