Great Expectations
Entrepreneur|Startups Summer 2021
The year 2021 may feel uncertain, but set your expectations high anyway. Doing so will become your guiding force.
By Richard Koch

Eighteen classes of schoolchildren were tested for their IQs. The results weren’t shown to students or parents. Instead, their teachers were simply given a list of which ones scored highest, along with these instructions: Do not treat these students differently than the others.

What happened next may have taken place in a classroom, but it can light a path for our own adult careers. Here were the results, originally produced in this study in 1965 but repeated many times over: After eight months, all the students were given another IQ test. Among the children not identified as unusually gifted before, there were no notable changes. But among the students who had scored highly before, four-fifths scored at least 10 IQ points higher the second time. A fifth gained 30 points.

How? Even after being told not to treat these children differently, their teachers had set their expectations high. The teachers unconsciously communicated something to the children about their abilities, and they rose as a result.

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