Sunday, July 25, 2021

Perceptions and Expectations


Most of you reading this know that once upon a time, I was a basketball coach. I spent eight years coaching high school boys, winning one state championship, and a runner-up one other year. Some great teams with great kids, some of whom went on to play at the collegiate level.

I also spent two years coaching and recruiting at the collegiate level. I was recruited to coach the guards, but during my first month on the job, the head coach walked into my office, and threw a map of Chicago and a credit card on my desk and said, “I need you to find me some players.”

I’m sure that after you read those first two paragraphs, you might think to yourself that I might have been quite a player once upon a time.

No. No way. As a player, I sucked! I got cut my junior year. I couldn’t dribble. I couldn’t shoot. If I jumped high enough, you might be able to slip a piece of paper under my shoes successfully. Maybe. I could play defense and I could set picks. That’s it! As I said, I sucked! 

My players knew I was a terrible player. One day, I opened up the gym for a shoot around and for players to play pick up games. There were nine guys who showed up. They were going to either play four on four and rotate someone in, or they were going to play five on four.

I reminded them I was available to play. They declined the offer, politely, of course. I insisted. I told them I opened up the gym, and I rolled out the balls and lowered the hoops, so I get to play.

Do you know what they did? They spotted the team with me ten points. Yes, you read that correctly. They considered me a ten point deficit. I was that bad!

So, now you’re wondering, how in the heck did I ever become a basketball coach. I get that. Everything I wrote about my playing ability and my coaching is absolutely true. So, how was it I could coach?

First, I had great assistant coaches who not only knew the game, but could play it. Tim B, Dan D, and Mark W were fantastic guys who knew the game, knew how to work with kids, and were fun to be around. I give them the credit for implementing my system and for making it work.

Second, I had phenomenal kids. I loved them, especially the guys on my last team. I was a motivator. I could lead. The kids listened. They respected me because they knew I respected them.

When you read the first couple of paragraphs of this post, you figured that I might have been another “jock.” A guy who coached and was successful because I could play the game. If you did, you’d be dead wrong.

You had a perception of me as a coach, possibly as a person. Because of that perception, you had an expectation of me, as both a coach and former player. Your faulty perception set the stage for a faulty expectation. Somehow, I failed to live up to your expectation, because your perception of me was also wrong.

I’ll give you another example.

His name is Nate. True name for a kid in one school I was principal for in Wisconsin. He was the kid who, upon hearing just his first name, would cause an eye roll, a sigh, and a shake of the head. Difficult. Passive aggressive. Defiant.

That was my perception of him, and the perception of most every staff member in that school. We also expected many things from him- some of which were born to fruition, while others, not so much.

One day, a new ninth grader walked to class carrying several textbooks, some binders, and some loose papers. A junior bully (I actually privately referred to him as a thug- which he was at the time) tripped the kid on purpose. Books, binders, and papers flew all over the floor. The kid did a face plant on the linoleum.

It wasn’t Nate!!!!! But Nate was there.

It was Nate who, without a word and without being asked, set his books down in the hallway, and helped this freshman- someone he did not know- pick up and organize his things. He then escorted the boy to class, and before the kid entered the room, gave him a pat on the back.

Yes, Nate did that! That Nate!!!!!

When I was told of the incident, a picture formed in my head. Probably the same picture formed in your head. It was Nate that did the tripping, and it was someone else who helped the ninth grader pick up his things. Both of us were wrong. Because of our perception of Nate, we expected a certain behavior from Nate. Happily, that expectation was wrong. So very wrong.

You see, there are times we have perceptions of people and events, and because of those perceptions, we have expectations. Both can be wrong and both can guide us down the wrong path.

Maybe we need to hold off on perceptions and expectations, because if we don’t, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment. Perhaps by waiting and withholding judgment, we can set ourselves up for a little more happiness, a little more joy, and less disappointment. We might help the individual or individuals we “set up” with our perceptions and expectations to keep from disappointing us. A little more joy for everyone. How can that hurt anyone? Something to think about . . .

Live Your Life, and Make A Difference! 

To My Readers:
I have an author’s website, in addition to my Facebook Author’s Page. On it, I talk about writing. I introduce characters from my books, and I introduce readers to other authors. I also release snippets from those books. Mostly, it is my way of reaching out to you so that you get to know my author side of life. You can find it at:
Other ways you can connect with me on Social Media: 
 at @jrlewisauthor
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My new book, Blaze In, Blaze Out, is now available for preorder. Use the promo code: PREORDER2021 and order it at the publisher’s website at:

Book Blurb for Blaze In, Blaze Out: Working with a joint multi-law enforcement task force, Detective Pat O’Connor infiltrated a Ukrainian crime family, headed by Dmitry Andruko. O’Connor and his control, Detective Paul Eiselmann, were the linchpins in the guilty verdict. The two detectives thought it was over. Eiselmann planned for a quiet weekend with his family at home. O’Connor planned on attending a high school soccer game, and then head to Northern Wisconsin for a fishing trip with another cop, Detective Jamie Graff, and four teenage adopted brothers: George Tokay, Brian Evans, Brett McGovern, and Michael Two Feathers. But Andruko is ruthless and vindictive. From his prison cell, he hires two contract killers to kill both O’Connor and Eiselmann and anyone else in the way. The killers can be anyone. The killers could be anywhere, and the killers could strike at any time. The quiet weekend and the short vacation turn into a deadly nightmare as O’Connor’s and Eiselmann’s lives and the lives of the four boys are in peril.

The one- or two-line promo for Blaze In, Blaze Out: 
Eiselmann and O’Connor thought the conviction of Dmitry Andruko meant the end. They forgot that revenge knows no boundaries, vindictiveness knows no restraints, and ruthlessness never worries about collateral damage. A target is a target, and in the end, the target will die.

Betrayed: A Maxy Award Runner-Up for Mystery/Suspense! A Literary Titan Silver Book Award Winner! A Reader’s Ready Recommended Read Award Winner!

Betrayed is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!
A late-night phone call, a missing kid, a murdered family, but no one is talking. A promise is made and kept, but it could mean the death of a fifteen-year-old boy. Seeing is not believing. No one can be trusted, and the hunters become the hunted.
Spiral Into Darkness: Named a Recommended Read in the Author Shout Reader Awards!
He blends in. He is successful, intelligent and methodical. He has a list and has murdered eight on it so far. There is no discernible pattern. There are no clues. There are no leads. The only thing the FBI and local police have to go on is the method of death: two bullets to the face- gruesome and meant to send a message. But it’s difficult to understand any message coming from a dark and damaged mind. Two adopted boys, struggling in their own world, have no idea they are the next targets. Neither does their family. And neither does local law enforcement.
Caught in a Web: A PenCraft Literary Award Winner! Named “One of the Best Thrillers of 2018!” by 

Caught in a Web is Now Available in Audio Book, Kindle and Paperback!

They found the bodies of high school and middle school kids dead from an overdose of heroin and fentanyl. MS-13, a violent gang originating from El Salvador controls the drug trade along the I-94 and I-43 corridors. They send Ricardo Fuentes to find out who is cutting in on their business, shut it down and teach them a lesson. But he has an ulterior motive: find and kill a fifteen-year-old boy, George Tokay, who had killed his cousin the previous summer. Detectives Jamie Graff, Pat O’Connor and Paul Eiselmann race to find the source of the drugs, shut down the ring, and find Fuentes before he kills anyone else, especially George or members of his family.    
The Lives Trilogy and Prequel are now available in both paperback, kindle and nook through both Amazon and Barnes & Noble! The links are below! I appreciate all the texts, requests, and messages I have been receiving. Thanks for your support and interest. I edited and revised each book. I am pleased with the results. I am thankful to BRW for their continued belief in me and in my writing. I hope you will rediscover or perhaps discover the Lives Trilogy and Prequel.  
The Lives Trilogy Prequel, Taking Lives:
FBI Agent Pete Kelliher and his partner search for the clues behind the bodies of six boys left in various and remote parts of the country. Even though they live in separate parts of the country, the lives of Kelliher, 11-year-old Brett McGovern, and 11-year-old George Tokay are separate pieces of a puzzle. The two boys become interwoven with the same thread Kelliher holds in his hand. The three of them are on a collision course and when that happens, their futures grow dark as each search for a way out.
Book One, Stolen Lives:
Two thirteen-year-old boys are abducted off a safe suburban street. Kelliher and his team of FBI agents have 24 hours to find them or they will end up like the other kids they found- dead! They have no leads, no clues, and nothing to go on. To make the investigation that much tougher, Kelliher suspects that one of his team members might be involved.  
Book Two of the Lives Trilogy, Shattered Lives:
The boys are home, but now they have to fit back in with their families and friends. Their parents and the FBI thought the boys were safe. They were until people began dying. Now the hunt is on for six dangerous and desperate men who vow revenge. With no leads and nothing to go on, the FBI can only sit back and wait. A dangerous game that threatens not only the boys, but their families. 
Book Three of the Lives Trilogy, Splintered Lives:
Three dangerous men with nothing to lose offer a handsome reward if fourteen-year-old Brett McGovern is killed. He does not know that he, his younger brother, and a friend are targets. More than anyone, these three men vow to kill George, whom they blame for forcing them to run and hide. A fun vacation turns into a nightmare and ends where it started, back on the Navajo Nation Reservation, high on a mesa held sacred by George and his grandfather. 
Outnumbered and outgunned, George will make the ultimate sacrifice to protect his adoptive father and his adoptive brothers- but can he? Without knowing who these men are? Or where they are? Without knowing whom to trust? Is he prepared for betrayal that leads to his heartbreak and possible death? 

Photo courtesy of Raj Rana and Unsplash


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Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe