This is an interesting concept. There are so many possibilities for interpretation. What it says to me at the end of the day, is that it is freeing to act without expectation. Expectation tends to lead to disappointment. I am all about being happy, so acting without expectation is a good way to maintain that happiness.
One possibility is the concept of giving to others without expecting something in return. No "quid pro quo", just random acts of kindness.Another possibility is the expectations that an elderly parent might have. "I took care of you, raising you, and now it is time for you to take care of me". I don't mean that parents only take care of their children from an expectation that they will be taken care of in their elderly years. Caring for one another is one of the threads that is bound up in the tapestry of love that you have with your children. That you both take care of each other.
You could look at it from a biblical perspective about sowing seeds and reaping. When you sow seeds, you have the expectation that they will grow. They will produce fruits, and you will reap a harvest at the end. In the bible sowing seed is written over 800 times. This reflects the importance of the lessons and principles of sowing and reaping. In the parable of sowing seeds, Jesus says that some are eaten by birds, some would die from the heat. Some are taken out by the thorns, but some fall on fertile ground and grow. If the expectation is that 100% of the seeds should produce, then you would be disappointed. But if your expectation was that only some would bear fruit, then your actions would fit this quote. Act without expectation of what each specific seed would do. Know that some will bear fruit.
Anonymous givers act without expectation of recognition for their giving. I saw a video where a man made a deal with a grocery store clerk that he would randomly pay for peoples groceries. Each time he would say that it was from God, saying that God is great. The clerk would make some similar comments. One woman started crying she was so overwhelmed. Another woman asked if she could pay it forward for the next persons groceries. They were astounded that someone would do that. They were all uplifted by the experience, both the giver and the receivers.
This reminded me of my job performance review in 2014 for the 2013 year. In 2013 I was working an average of 60 - 70 hrs a week, many times going in at 6:30 AM and not leaving until 9 - 10:00 at night. At our annual reviews at the bank, were told what our bonus is and if we are getting a raise. At that time I hadn't had a raise in 6 years and promised next year there would be raise, for two years in a row. I expected to both get a raise and a bigger bonus than the previous year because of all my hard work. Instead not only did I not get the promised raise, my bonus was lower than the previous year. Instead the bonus pool was cut, there was no raise. My boss was proud to say that due to employee attrition he was able to keep everyones individual bonus the same.
Needless to say, I wasn't happy. I acted with the expectation that my going beyond what everyone else did would be recognized. I had asked many times for them to hire extra help. I worked the hours of two people. There were other employees in our group that never worked 5 minutes of overtime. I told him how upsetting it was that he had kept our bonus's the same, when they didn't earn one. I told him that his message to me was, I should have just worked my 40 hours. I should have just let our team get further and further behind. My boss just sort of shrugged it off.
If I had acted without expectation of a reward or acknowledgment, I would have been a happier employee. My lesson was that it is not my problem if my employer will not adequately staff for our work load. I now know that if I do take one for the team, it will be without expectation of any kind of reward or acknowledgment. That way I can maintain my own happiness.