BCSE Syndrome?

Do you suffer from BCSE Syndrome?  It’s common (one of my biggest personal struggles), and one that is certainly not easy to resolve. However, similar to other dysfunctions, often the first step in the right direction is the diagnosis or admission of its presence and understanding the alternatives.

BCSE Syndrome stands for “Best Case Scenario Extrapolation” Syndrome. It occurs when an individual experiences something initially positive and then combines that positive outcome with an optimistic extrapolation of life and BOOM! Suddenly BCSE syndrome is in full effect. That’s right. Two POSITIVE components come together to create BCSE Syndrome.  Here are a few examples of how you or your wellness coaching clients might stumble into this discouraging phenomenon…

  • You lose 10 lbs in the first 3 weeks of your new exercise and healthy eating journey. In your excitement, BCSE creates an expectation that you’ll be down another 30 lbs in 2 1/2 months. You drop 18 lbs but are discouraged with your “failure.”
  • You’re in a sales role and one of your meetings goes swimmingly. You walk out the door with an extra skip in your step, feeling good about the potential of this new client. Then BCSE kicks in. Rather than thinking “that went really well – we probably have a good 20-30% chance they’re going to work with us,” you instead shift into BCSE and see it as already a “done deal” in your mind. It falls through, and although you captured 3 other clients during the same time period, you’re down in the dumps.
  • You’re training for a marathon and you just nailed a 14 mile run at just under your planned marathon race pace.  BCSE takes over, adjusting your targeted time for the marathon down by several minutes based on this one training session. You finish the race with a new PR, but couldn’t hold the expected pace so walk away bummed out.
  • You invest in a mutual fund and it grows 10% the first year. Here we go! BCSE going forward in our mental financial planning! In years two and three, it reverts to the historical 8% and you’re ready to sell.

There are dozens of examples, but you get the idea. Extrapolating optimistically about something with a short history is fun. It’s dreaming – and dreaming is a good thing, right? Yes it is. Absolutely. However, it’s when we forget it’s a dream scenario and shift it to being an actual “reality” in our minds that it can cause us (or our clients) trouble. Happiness has been defined as “Reality divided by Expectations.” Based on that equation, the obvious solution is to either reduce our expectations or optimize our reality (or both).  So is that really the answer? Live life with low expectations and encourage (or maybe I should say “depress”) our wellness coaching clients to do the same?

No. A thousand times – no.

The key to curing (or at least limiting the impact of) BCSE Syndrome is controlling the shift from “positive expectations” to “plans.” Dream away, my friends. Our “sleeping dreams” can spark new ideas or cause us to wake up with a smile, but we don’t get out of bed and live the day as though the dream were true (yet). In the same way, create a powerful vision of your life based on current scenarios and even include some extrapolation. Work toward those dreams and visions. Just don’t take that final step toward treating it as a reality – yet.

If we continue to create the powerful visions and work consistently toward them, we (and our clients) will end up much further down the road – EVEN IF MANY DON’T COME TO FRUITION – than the person who lives life with low expectations. BCSE Syndrome is a tough thing to work through, but it will kick the tail of consistent pessimism at every turn.


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