“Whatever we expect with confidence becomes our own self-fulfilling prophecy.”

~ Brian Tracy

You ever hear the story about the kids who were accidentally labeled as “smart” or “dumb” and how their teacher’s expectations dramatically impacted their growth in the school year?

Classic story on self-fulfilling prophecies.

The quick version:

School in England. Computer program completely messes up the labeling of kids and literally puts the “smart” kids in the ‘dumb” class and the “dumb” kids in the “smart” class. Oops.

So, teachers start teaching the “smart” kids as if they’re smart and the “dumb” ones as if they’re dumb.

Fast forward 5 months.

They catch the error. And re-test the kids on IQ and other measures.

Guess what?

The truly smarter kids score significantly worse than before. The less intelligent kids? They improve dramatically.


As the teachers for the “dumb” kids said when asked to explain her teaching experience during the first few weeks of the term: “For some reason, our methods weren’t working,” they replied. “So we had to change our methods.”


The data said that these kids were bright. So if things weren’t working, it had to be their teaching methods.

Imagine that.

When the kids had someone who totally believed in their abilities and potential and showered them with optimism and support, they grew.

And if they thought they weren’t too bright? They fulfilled that expectation as well.

VERY (very very very) powerful stuff.

What expectations do you have in your life?

For your kids if you have them?

For your friends?

For your colleagues?

For your significant other?

And, most importantly (as what you think of yourself is going to be the strongest predictor of what you think of others), WHAT EXPECTATIONS DO YOU HAVE FOR YOURSELF?!?

Let’s create some new prophecies to fulfill, shall we?

Author's Bio: 

Brian Johnson is a (Professional) Student of Life. He used to build businesses. Now he’s building his life while inspiring and empowering others to discover and live at their highest potential.

In his past lives, Brian raised over $7.5 million to finance the two leading online social networks he created: eteamz and Zaadz.

As a 24-year-old law school dropout, Brian created eteamz —which he grew into a company that now (profitably) serves over 3 million teams and their families involved in youth athletics and counts Little League Baseball® as a client.

After selling eteamz in 2000, Brian spent a few years as a philosopher, immersing himself in philosophy, psychology, mysticism and optimal living. He created ThinkArete.com, a site where he began distilling the universal truths of optimal living. Over 10,000 people signed up to receive his daily newsletter, The Philosopher’s Notes, where he broke down the wisdom of his favorite teachers, showing how everyone (from Nietzsche to Buddha to Rumi) is saying the same thing.

In an effort to integrate his philosophical and entrepreneurial selves (yes, he’s a Gemini :) ), in 2004 Brian created Zaadz—a company named after the Dutch word for seed committed to leveraging world-class social networking tools to connect, inspire and empower people committed to transforming their lives and our planet. (Think: MySpace for people who want to change the world.)

Feeling the dharmic pull to immerse himself back into studying and living the universal truths, Brian sold Zaadz to Gaiam, Inc. (Nasdaq: GAIA) in the summer of 2007.

Before all of that, Brian graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from UCLA where he studied Psychology and Business. He’s been on MSNBC’s The Most with Alison Stewart, and has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal (a couple times), The San Francisco Chronicle, and various other places on everything from philosophy to business to his vision on how to change the world.

He reads a lot and has fun integrating universal truths into his day-to-day life and also likes to hike, laugh, write, think, draw and teach. He’ll be re-launching ThinkArete.com later this year and publishing his first book: “Areté: The Ten Universal Principles to Living at Your Highest Potential” in early 2009. He’s 33.