Harry and Ron stood there in the corner, happily celebrating their free period.

Professor McGonagal, however, looked at them, called them, and said that Harry should fill their free period with Potions subject, for him to be able to pursue his dream to become an Auror.

“But Professor, Potions subject needs me to have Outstanding on my NEWT,” Harry said.

“It was when Professor Snape was teaching, however, Professor Slughorn is happy for students with Exceed Expectation,” Professor McGonagal said.

But what does “Exceed Expectation” mean?

One day Professor Randy Paush was giving an assignment to his students. It was a new subject and he clearly didn’t know how good or bad his students were.

But his students showed up with projects that blew his mind.

Confused, he called his mentor, Andy van Dam, asking for guidance. He said, “Andy, I have given my students a two-week assignment and they come back with something that if they have the whole semester to do it, I would give them all A’s. Sensei, what should I do?”

Here’s what his mentor replied, “You go back to class tomorrow, and said, ‘That was good but I know you could do better.’

“You clearly don’t know where the bar should be and you will only be doing a disservice to them by putting it anywhere.”

You know, there is a bar for every expectation.

You go to your local cafe one morning for brunch but they serve awful food.

You go to a weird, unfamiliar territory but then you taste the best coffee you ever had in the past year.

You submit an assignment, hoping for a B and then you get an A+.

And perhaps, to be happy, or deemed successful, you need to exceed the expectation.

If you are a writer, write a book that blows your reader’s mind. If you are a restaurant manager, give the best customer service ever.

The trickiest part is, no one knows where to put the expectation bar.

I’ve found out that I take disappointment very seriously. In order to guard my heart, I am used to set the bar low.  I finish an assignment praying that I would get an H2B. I send job applications while thinking, “It’s okay, I just want to test the water. If I can get the job, then that’s a bonus.”

But I’ve also found out that this limits me from doing my best.

By setting the bar low, I am doing a disservice to myself. I believe that I can only achieve small things, and that I am easily pleased with good.

You know what? I want to be great.

Of course, I will not recommend being highly ambitious either. I have witnessed enough ambitions going through the drain, enough friends turn into people-pleasers and obnoxious beings.

I realised that only me knows where the bar should be. And there is one thing that I should do – incrementally try to increase the bar, and keep on surprising myself.

I might fail; I might fall. But most importantly, one day, I will exceed the expectations, and I will soar.