When You Fall Short of Expectations

The Strange Case of Apple’s Disappointing Revenue

We all know what it feels like to let people down. Our boss…spouse…kids…parents…friends…customers…clients. The list goes on.

It feels terrible to let people down.

Apple, one of the world’s most successful companies, let its shareholders down last quarter. The company was expected to take in $76.54 billion in revenue for the quarter (yes, BILLION), but they “only” received a meager $75.9 billion.

Meanwhile, Apple only sold 74.8 million iPhones in the quarter, short of the projected 75.4 million.

How depressing…

In an effort to explain these disappointing results, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that there were “a lot of great things happening in a turbulent environment.”

But Apple shareholders weren’t impressed by this explanation, and the stock value dropped more than 6% today.

There’s a lesson in all of this, of course. Probably several lessons.

If your life is focused on trying to live up to people’s expectations, you will find yourself frustrated and depressed much of the time. Occasionally, someone may give you an “At-a Boy.” But more often than not, you will find yourself living “below expectations.”

Which raises a critical question: WHOSE expectations will govern your outlook on your success or failure?

Put another way, the question is this: WHO are you trying to please?

If your answer is that you want to please EVERYBODY, you might as well check yourself into an insane asylum, because that’s surely where you’re headed.


Each of us must decide who we’re ultimately trying to please. If we want to maintain some degree of sanity, we are wise to make it our primary ambition to please our Heavenly Father rather than anyone on earth. If you want to do a little Bible study on this, here are a few verses: Matthew 3:17, 2 Corinthians 5:9-10, Galatians 1:10, Matthew 25:21.

We also must have the wisdom to reject any unfair or unrealistic expectations people try to pin on us—because they inevitably will from time to time. Remember how Jesus rejected the expectations of those who hoped He would overthrow the Romans and immediately set up His kingdom? He was clear on His mission and wouldn’t let people squeeze Him into their mold.

So here’s my life-changing homework assignment for you: Take some time to get away by yourself and prayerfully review the list of people you’ve been trying to please. Then write down what these people are expecting, and ask the Lord whether those expectations are HIS expectations or something you should discard.

If you take this homework to heart, I have a prediction: You’ll exit the treadmill you’ve been on and once again experience the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

And if your revenue this quarter fails to reach $76 billion (or some other grandiose projection), don’t ask me to feel sorry for you. Instead, I would tell you to be grateful—to celebrate! Things could have been a whole lot worse.