How to Lead with Hope
To lead is to give hope
“Hope is a waking dream.” — Aristotle
The old year has finished trampling over us and the new year welcomes us with warm and open arms.
The essence of the new year is to begin with a hopeful heart.
In 1973, E.B. White, responding to a correspondent who seemed fixated on an unavoidably bleak future of humanity, captured the notion perfectly in his letter:
“As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness…
“Hang onto your hat. Hang onto your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.”
Why is hope so important? And how can we cultivate it in our own lives?
First, hope gives us the strength to persevere through the various challenges that life presents. It is what keeps the lamp lit, what fuels our souls when obstacles seem overwhelming.
Hope also helps us focus on our goals and aspirations. In doing so, it becomes easier to believe in ourselves and our abilities, which sometimes even allows us to achieve things we hadn’t thought possible.
Hope gives us the courage to take risks and try new things. So emboldened, we throw aside our fears and take necessary risks and steps towards fulfilling our dreams.
Hope also brings us a sense of peace and contentment. This inner calm gives us a sense of trust that everything will work out in the end, even if we don’t understand why certain things happen.
Leading with Hope
Every leader should be interested in creating a sense of hope for their people. We want them to be strong, courageous, focused, and trusting.
Whether you’re trying to raise children or create a successful business, these steps are identical, because hope is universal.
Create and communicate a clear and compelling vision
When you help your team understand your vision and the broader goal, they’ll be in a better position to help achieve greatness. Make it something that’s worthy of pursuing and that they can get excited about.
Keep the momentum going
When we run into obstacles, it can be demoralizing. Reducing or eliminating the obstacles your team encounters will help them become more successful. Showing a child how to solve a problem (but not solving it for them) gives them a sense of independence and a can-do attitude.
It feels good to achieve something. Whether it’s crossing off an item from a to-do list, hitting a milestone, or launching a new product, when we accomplish a goal, it sends a message to our brains. We should pause and acknowledge these victories, small and large, for they continue to give us hope to power on.
Even if we’ve never done a certain thing before — particularly if no one has done a certain thing before — there’s a kind of confidence that give us hope. Precursive faith is a belief in ourselves, combining initial confidence and resilient confidence, that we believe in ourselves enough to accomplish something. Imagine instilling that kind of belief into those you’re trying to inspire.
Control what you can
There will always be factors that are outside of our realm of control. We can’t control what others do or think. We can’t control external forces. But we can control our reaction to them. We are in command of our own minds. And focusing our efforts on what we can control, we offer up more hope.
With the new year ahead of us, suddenly, it feels like we have more reason to hope than before.
Keep hope in your heart and grow it in the hearts of others. Focus on things you can control.
And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
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