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The Key to Happiness is No Expectations

Written by Corey Chambas, President & CEO, Parent Company Board Member, and First Business Bank Board Member

Long-time readers will notice that most of my blogs come to me while I’m biking because, well, that’s when I have quiet time to think. I wasn’t able to bike much early in the year as the early spring was cold and wet, the summer weather has been unusually stormy, and I also dealt with the worst cold of my life. (My grandkids gave it to me — it’s a good thing they’re cute!)

Corey ChambasI typically don’t ride in the rain or even on wet roads because: 1) I don’t like to fall, and 2) I hate cleaning my bike which gets really trashed riding when it’s wet. But when I finally started to feel better, I was determined to ride. I had a short timeframe on a Saturday morning. I was going to see my grandkids and help out my son-in-law who was flying solo with very active one-and-a-half and three-year-old for a few days while my wife and daughter took a weekend trip. I checked all four weather apps that I have and calculated that if I kept it to a shorter 90-minute ride, three out of the four apps said I could make it home before the rain.

Unfortunately, about halfway into my ride as I headed back, it started to rain. Dang you “Dark Sky” — it’s the only app I’ve ever paid for and it was the one outlier that was correct again. My immediate reaction was anger. But then there was a clap of thunder, and now I started to wonder, “Does a carbon fiber bike attract lightning?” At that point, all I wanted to do was get home without getting caught in a nasty thunderstorm. It rained steadily the rest of the way but no more thunder or lightning and no heavy downpours, so I ended up actually being happy with the outcome. When I got home I definitely had to clean my bike, and I realized it wasn’t that big of a deal either.

Just prior to my riding in the rain adventure, someone we were recruiting at First Business declined a job offer, and since we’d spent a lot of time and effort on this person, when we got the news several people were really disappointed. I wasn’t, however, as I had already resigned myself to the fact that he wasn’t going to accept. I had anticipated it based on how long his decision had dragged on, so when the news finally came in, I wasn’t let down. The person who led the recruiting effort was really bummed, so I jokingly told her the key to happiness is having no expectations. We got a little chuckle out of it.

I used the same line again within a couple days later at work — that the key to happiness is having no expectations, and somebody said to me, “That’s a really bad attitude.” And I thought, “Yeah, that’s probably right.”

I couldn’t help but return to this idea again when I was out on my bike the Sunday of that same rainy weekend. My apps showed about a 50% chance of rain as I put on my still-wet biking shoes. Wouldn’t you know as I rolled out of my garage, it started to rain lightly. I had looked at the radar and thought if I rode east, I might be able to ride away from the rainy area. A half-hour later I had made it to where I assumed I’d be in the clear but it was now coming down pretty hard. So I accepted the reality and resigned myself to the fact that it was going to rain the whole time. And then, for the two five-to-10-minute stretches the rain let up, I was really happy.

I now decided that the concept of lowering expectations might actually be a good one.

I’m not saying don’t have hope and I’m not saying don’t try, just don’t have an expectation that might not be met. This is especially true for things you can’t control – like the weather or certain people – say beltline drivers, rebellious teenagers…. If you don’t have expectations, you can’t be disappointed.


P.S. Subsequent to the weekend that began the formulation of this blog idea, I’ve been caught in the rain another five or six times as I’m not letting the weather deter me. Two interesting notes: When I recently arrived home yet again soaking wet but happy, my wife met me at the door and proclaimed, “I think you’re getting dumber.” Also, I’m getting really good at cleaning and lubing my bike!

Disclaimer: this is more of a life blog than a work blog. This is especially true if you’re an employee of First Business and you’re reading this as I will continue to have very high expectations of everyone here. 🙂

2 comments on “The Key to Happiness is No Expectations”

  1. Mike Mahoney

    July 31, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Corey – I could not disagree with you more than this blog. And I’m surprised you wrote/believe it. I set my expectations sky high and continually raise them. I have matured enough to understand that I will likely fail more often than not, but at least the bar keeps getting raised. If I’m not getting told no enough, well then I’m not trying hard enough. Take Care, Mike.

  2. Corey Chambas

    August 1, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Mike,

    Well, I couldn’t agree with you more! For the things you can control, like your own self, I think we all should have very high expectations. I believe setting lofty long-term goals (and then maybe breaking them down into doable less daunting shorter-term goals) is a key to success. As Vince Lombardi said “perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.”

    The same holds for teams and business management. I’ve written before on the need for managers to very clearly articulate expectations (what good performance looks like) and hold people accountable to that.
    However, in this more lighthearted blog, I was trying to specifically talk about expectations for things we can’t control – like the weather in my story or the delayed flight I had earlier this week coming back from NY. The point I was trying to make was it’s having expectations for these uncontrollable things in life that lead to disappointment.

    It’s great to hear from you and I appreciate you sharing your perspective. I hope your family is well and it’s not too hot and steamy down in Texas. Let me know if/when you are getting to Madtown!


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