Pygmalion & Golem Effect

(More reading on this effect: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pygmalion_effect) In the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, I saw Gollum (the 'small, slimy creature') portrayed as a sniveling, sad, and fearful creature.

He's scared of everyone and everything, but most scared of losing his precious. (The One Ring.)

He constantly talks himself down, and calls himself names almost constantly.

No one has any positive expectations for Gollum. (Also, it's technically the Golem Effect, but I prefer my analogy.) The question I have - What if someone expected more of Gollum?

And now his opposite - Legolas.

He's partially driven by the high expectations placed on him as an elf. (Pygmalion Effect) And the opposite question here - What if someone expected less of Legolas?

Looking closely, I see these replicated in my life often. My friends who have high expectations of themselves are winning in life.

My friends who have low expectations of themselves are seemingly always sinking. There doesn't seem to be a bottom to the hole they are in.

Going meta...My expectations of my friends:

I have high (but different) expectations for all of my friends. Some are so successful, I can hardly believe it. Others have a distance to go.

This effect is clear - My friends can be impacted by my exceptions of them.

Other Places I see it:

  • At work when we give our team a long deadline - We're giving ourselves the gollum effect of low expectations.
  • I expect a lot from my younger friends. Just because you're 19-25 doesn't mean you are limited to university or dumb risks.
  • I expect more from myself. I think low expectations can lead to happiness, but not fulfilment.
  • If you join a team you don’t respect, it’s a natural gollum environment.
  • If you join a team you respect (often seen in Startups, Ivy League, or big Tech), it’s a true pygmalion environment.

Questions I think about:

What do my friends expect from me?

What do I expect from my friends?

How can I help people develop higher expectations for me?

High Expectations + Kindness + Love.


Cultural rising expectations? We begin to expect ‘the minimum’ without knowing what supports the minim.