‘Simple Truths I’ve Picked Up’

Bob Priest-Heck, president and COO of Freeman, on how to get over your unmet expectations of others — and why you should.

Bob Priest-Heck, president and COO of Freeman, is launching a blog in collaboration with Each month, he’ll share his wisdom on what it takes to lead others with strength and integrity.

Have you ever noticed that some of the most important rules of business look a lot like common sense dressed up in an Armani sport coat? And have you ever been surprised (or dismayed or disheartened) to discover that some of these common-sense rules aren’t all that common?

Of course, when you’ve been on the planet long enough, you start to realize that the lessons learned from your mom, your school friends, and your first crush actually have a bearing on the universe at large. Even a bad boss can teach you important things about yourself. I’ve absorbed many valuable lessons from flawed human beings. I believe you can continue to gain insights about yourself and others by accepting these two truths:

1) It takes one to know one. We’re all flawed human beings.

2) Everyone you meet is a possible teacher; don’t stop learning.

Often, when I share an anecdote with a friend or colleague that exemplifies one of these simple “life lessons,” they genuinely appreciate the story and apply it. It seems to happen more and more. (Does that mean I’m getting older, or that I’m hanging out with younger people?) In any event, it got me thinking about how many simple truths I’ve picked up over the years. In honor of the people who’ve helped set me straight in the past, and in the spirit of paying it forward, I’ve committed to sharing some of those observations here.

Here’s my first piece of advice: Stop waiting for a response that you’re never going to get.

Paint8[2][1]Sometimes we have expectations of others that they can never live up to. Sometimes we want something from people that they just aren’t equipped to give us. The result is frustration, which is an absolute energy drain. This often happens with family members — parents, siblings, or children who just don’t show us love in the precise way we want to be loved.

It can also happen with clients, bosses, and coworkers. They don’t have the sense of humor we crave. They’re too private and won’t open up. They don’t give us the pat on the back we’ve earned.

In these situations, we have two choices. We can quit — we can divorce, fire or disown these people. Or we can focus on controlling the only part of the relationship we can control. That would be our own expectations.

If your client is Oscar the Grouch, don’t expect a congratulatory fist bump when you’ve delivered an amazing result on a tough assignment. You’re never going to get it. But do the amazing work you always do anyway. Be gracious and professional. Give those hugs and fist bumps to your own team members. In other words, model the behavior you’d like to see. But leave your frustration — along with unrealistic expectations — in the garbage can with Oscar.

Follow Bob on Twitter @bpriestheck.



Bob Priest-Heck