Some believe in the power of hope and they want it, maybe even desperately, but they can’t find it, it eludes them. Or maybe they are afraid to get their hopes up again. Their hope has been dashed too many times. And, they find it is harder, every time, to pick themselves up after they are let down and begin to hope…again.
Others are really, powerfully angry at hope. They don’t believe in it, they don’t want to hear about it, wish people would stop fooling themselves with it. What good is hope really? Where did it get us? They believe that not only doesn’t hope help, but it hurts. It lets us down, hard.
But the first thing to think about in discussing rekindling hope is, why does hope matter? Why should we take the time or energy to rekindle it? Because if we don’t really understand what hope can do for us, why work hard to rebuild it?
My personal opinion is that many people hold many misconceptions about hope. What hope is, what it isn’t, how to recognize and generate hope, how to sustain hope, and why it even matters.
I began studying hope over a decade ago because it became clear it was critical to my life’s work. So, I interviewed hundreds and hundreds of people, I attended myriad workshops and discussions, I read about hope and I was astounded how vague many people were when putting their thoughts about hope into words, even many of those people who valued it and utilized it in their own life’s work (including myself.)
When I began giving keynote presentations and both short and extended workshops on hope, it became increasingly clear to me that I needed to develop an “elevator pitch” for why hope matters. I knew hope was central to my work and I knew hope was often wildly misunderstood and undervalued by many people who could hugely benefit from a change in the way they thought about hope. I spent years studying hope and years working to identify a way to easily convey the criticality of it.
And after much work toward that end, I came up with an eight word explanation for why hope matters.
HOPE IS THE ANSWER TO THE QUESTION WHY
Why get out of bed in the morning?
Why work harder than you have ever worked when you feel worse than you ever knew it was possible to feel?
Why keep getting up every day, and putting one foot in front of the other, even when things seem to just keep getting darker?
It has been asked, lately, how is hope working for you (meaning, us, systemically) now? And the answer is simple, it isn’t.
Hope isn’t working for us now because we have lost it. Hope and action aren’t in the driver’s seat anymore. But when we had it, when it was doing the driving, well, at that time things looked, and were, very different. And they can be again.
We can rekindle hope, together and begin to make change, together. And change begins with hope and moves forward with action. We are then in a position to reset (higher!) expectations with more hope, change and action, celebrating along the way. Hope can begin a cycle of change, action and celebration that ripples out and profoundly changes the way we “do business”, individually and nationally.
Why do we begin with hope? Because in the same way a car needs fuel, we do too. And hope is fuel for action. When we have real, genuine hope we have more energy, difficult tasks are more easily undertaken. We are less inclined to go for immediate gratification, less inclined to want it easy, fast and cheap, and more inclined to take a step back, see the long view and work hard to build meaningful and sustainable change. Hope is a profoundly powerful fuel and it is one of the few things in this world that is free for us all.
With hope, we plant the seeds today so that tomorrow will be different.
So, how do we begin rekindling hope? First, we decide that rekindling hope is a priority. Then we begin to take action. Together.