Do you keep your expectations low on purpose? I’m guilty of this at times. My daughter’s riding coach has reminded me how something as simple as your clothes can change your attitude toward yourself and the challenge you’re facing.
A couple of months ago, my daughter changed riding stables and coaches. The new coach has a dress code. A dress code at a stable? Ridiculous? Nope. Aside from the required safety gear, she has to have her hair neatly tied back (I’ve gotten very good at french braiding and pinning braids up) or wear a hairnet. She has to wear breeches and a belt with paddock boots and half-chaps or tall riding boots, and she has to wear a collared shirt tucked in. Dressing like a serious rider has changed my daughter’s attitude and approach to each lesson. The clothes don’t make her a better rider – the clothes are merely a collection of external details that ultimately don’t mean anything, but the clothes help create a mindset.
In the 1990 movie Pretty Woman, Julia Robert’s character Vivian’s expectations changed dramatically. She didn’t need the clothes or money to become the kind of person she wanted to be because good character is free.
What does Pretty Woman have to teach us about raising our expectations?
1) Dress the Part
My daughter holds her head a little higher when she dresses for riding lessons with the new dress code. She goes mentally prepared to ride, to learn, to improve, to ask more of herself (and her horse) physically than the week before. From Pretty Woman, Vivian walks into a high-end fashion store with money to spend, but salespeople won’t wait on her because she’s dressed like a prostitute. She returns the next day dressed more appropriately for those high-end shops, but her entire demeanor changes. She’s no longer chewing her nails or slouching. Her attitude is no longer ‘in your face’ but rather ‘I won’t settle for anything less than your respect.’ The clothes gave her confidence.
2) Challenge Yourself
Once she had the clothes, Vivian challenged herself to do more. She learned table etiquette, she forced herself to use proper English instead of street slang – he didn’t pay her to learn any of that. She expected more of herself.
My daughter’s fallen off her horse more in the last two months than in the previous two years combined. What used to completely rattle her, she shakes off. Her idea of ‘worst-case scenario’ has shifted. Switching to hour lessons from half hour lessons challenges her stamina, but she says, “No, I want to keep going.” She’s learning to rise to the challenges her new coach throws at her. And a good coach won’t set you up to fail – by rising to each new challenge she’s learning more than how to be a better rider.
3) Check Your Attitude
Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.
Edward: I think you… are a very bright, very special woman.
Vivian: The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?
Vivian completely changed her look, her speech, her expectations – she rediscovered things about herself, but she never compromised that deep down truth about who she was. Edward started off treating her with deference, respect, listened when she talked, talked to her. His money didn’t impress her nearly as much as his character. She had come to him expecting nothing, but by the end of their week together her expectations of herself had risen so much that his polite deference wasn’t enough.
My daughter hasn’t been with her new coach long enough to start thinking she knows everything, but hopefully she’ll learn that you never know everything there is to know about a subject. Humility is greatly undervalued in our society.
Ever been in a situation where you’ve had to rise to a challenge, adjust your personal expectations for yourself or others for you? What helps you adjust your mindset? Does changing your clothes help?
Many thanks to Con Brio Farm for allowing me to wander through the practice ring with a camera.
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