Hope is a choice. There is plenty of bad news around at the moment. Whether it is the war in the Ukraine, the energy crisis, or the ramping up of inflation. The question in my mind is ‘what is my response to this going to be?’ I cannot do much about the circumstances going on around me, but I can decide to hope. I can decide to focus on what I can do instead of what I can’t do. How about you?
As I write this blog, I have found out that today is World Mental Health Day (10th October). In reflecting on all that can knock us down and affect our mental well-being, one of the key factors which impacts your mental health is whether you have hope or not. Hope is key to the resilience needed to not just survive but to see the new opportunities presented.
What can you do to build hope? How as a leader can you keep the flame of hope alive?
“When you do nothing you feel overwhelmed and powerless. But when you get involved you feel the sense of hope and accomplishment that comes from knowing you are working to make things better.” Maya Angelou
In this quote from Maya Angelou taking action is a key to hope. It is in action where you stoke the flame of hope. Sitting often leads to paralysis and a sinking into despair. Figuring out what will encourage hope in you will enable you to lead better especially in these times we live in. Hope is about a belief that the future can be better. Maintaining hope is about being a part of making that future better. Successful leaders are dealers in hope.
John W. Gardner, a member of Lyndon B Johnson’s cabinet, said:
“The first and last task of a leader is to keep hope alive – the hope that we can finally find our way through to a better world – despite the day’s action, despite our own inertness, shallowness and wavering resolve.”
The Truth about Hope
I have gleaned these from John Maxwell:
- Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
- Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
- Hope energizes when the body is tired.
- Hope believes when the evidence is limited.
- Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
- Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
- Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
- Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
- Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
In order to give hope, you must have hope. You can’t give away what you don’t possess. As a leader if you are to lead with hope then you must decide to focus on hope and not on the circumstances around you. It’s not that you ignore them but that you view them through the lens of hope.
To Build Hope:
1. Realise that hope is a choice. To hope is a decision. What you focus on expands. As a leader you can focus on all that is going wrong or look for the lessons to learn and hope that things will get better as you actively look for solutions. There is always an answer.
2. Change your thinking. It is true that we generally get what we expect in life. To focus on hope you must change the view. Look your challenges in the face and say I am bigger than my current circumstances. You will get through this.
3. Act, take the next step, by going after the small victory. When you experience small victories, it helps to build your hope for the bigger desires and dreams you have.
4. Be careful about how you speak, particularly to yourself. Every challenge has something to teach you. What is it? When something doesn’t work it is an invitation to discover what does work. Hope carries you from failure-to-failure learning all the way until you succeed.
“Hope isn’t an emotion it is a way of thinking.” Brené Brown