The Story of Sheldon – Hoping vs. Wishing

Nearly any Procovery Circle* member can tell you the difference between hoping and wishing, in any number of ways, including  by reciting a story, utilized in Procovery Circles,  to highlight the difference.  The story is about Sheldon and can be found on page 82 of the The Power of Procovery in Healing.

Now Sheldon really, really wants to win the lottery.  And every single day he prays that he will. But despite faithfully praying every day, he never does win, and when Sheldon dies and finds himself at the Pearly Gates, he asks pleadingly “St. Peter, I have been waiting my whole life to ask you why you never, ever, ever let me win the lottery? Not even once? Not even for a dollar? I prayed every single day that I might win, and I can’t understand why you never helped me out?”  And St. Peter looks at Sheldon and equally pleadingly asks, “Sheldon, I have been waiting all of your life to ask you something. Why did you never, ever, EVER, help me out, even one time, and BUY A LOTTERY TICKET?”

Click here to hear Gary Gougis a passionate Procovery Circle Facilitator at South Bay Mental Health Center share his take on this story about Sheldon.

Click here to hear Susan Scott in West Plains, MO responding to the same question.

So, there is a critical difference between hoping and wishing. Wishing is passive, hoping is active. Hope can fuel change.

To quote Andy Warhol, “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

Moving beyond wishing, activating the power of hope, being able to really see how powerful change can take place, inspires us to do what we need to do, to get where we want to go…

Until next time…


*To learn more about Procovery Circles please click on the following link:

Hoping and Wishing

Hope has a bad reputation with some people. And one of the reasons for this, I think, is that many people seem to confuse hoping and wishing. And that distinction is critical.

Hope is active – it holds power. Wishing is passive. You can sit around all day long and wish you had a job, but without taking steps to find, and keep, a job, wishing won’t do much for you. But hope? Hope fuels you, it drives you. Because of hope people take action and make things happen. Hope is a powerful fuel for change.

Check back Monday for a story that illustrates the difference between hoping and wishing.

Until then…


Understanding What Hope Can Do for Us

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.


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.


Why Hope? Why Now?

What happened? Wasn’t it just a couple of years ago, the nation was exhibiting a profound sense of hope that individually, and together, we could shift directions, make changes and strip ourselves of cynicism and the belief that we are too small and too powerless to make a difference?

A couple of years ago, across the country, we were all becoming inspired and beginning to feel that perhaps we could do something about the way things are. Many people felt there was reason to HOPE and that together we could achieve CHANGE.

And now, perhaps the most important first thing to consider about rekindling hope is why we should try. Why now?

For some people hope has a bad reputation, it’s seen as wavy and fluffy, hard to define or measure, not “scientific”.  Or it’s seen as a tool used to “sell” something, for instance something politicians might use as a smokescreen, a way to manipulate voters, a way of ignoring the reality of the current times.

Some people feel hope is all well and good, but only to a certain point, and sure, it’s nice enough to have it but it isn’t all that critical. We have much bigger fish to fry, right? We hear that hope isn’t necessary and it won’t help to solve many of the issues we’re all facing.

Well, don’t be so quick to discount the value of hope. Tomorrow we’ll take a moment to take a closer look.

Until then…


Conversations We Should Be Having: Rekindling Hope!

A couple of years ago we were a nation brimming with hope. There was an energy rippling across the country and you could almost feel it in the air. That energy came at the right time.  We knew that we faced serious, complicated, overwhelming challenges.  But despite this, there was a rippling sense of hope, a sense that maybe, just maybe, there was a way out for us. 

It was as though cynicism and passivity were relegated to the back seat, while hope and action leaped in to the driver’s seat. 

Flash forward to now – the beginning of a new year – 2011. 

We still face serious, complicated and overwhelming challenges. And for many people nothing much feels any different, well nothing except that it appears that now cynicism and passivity may be back in the driver’s seat again. And people are wondering what we will do if things simply don’t change? And wondering if there is any chance they even still can? 

Many people are really hurting and many people are really scared.

And there is a lot of talk about what to do. And there is a lot of finger pointing and assigning of blame.

Washington is to blame, the media is to blame, as is Wall Street, Republicans, Democrats, people who didn’t vote, people who did… There is a lot of blame circulating. 

And now with our hope diminishing, we find ourselves with all of the same problems we were facing a couple of years ago, but we are a little older now and a lot more tired. But now, we are also really scared. Things aren’t changing or they aren’t changing fast enough. What do we do? Where do we place our belief? Is it even possible to get out of the hole we are in, personally and as a nation?

And the answer is, of course it is possible to get out of the hole we are in. The verdict is out as to whether we WILL take the steps needed to do so, but we certainly can.

We are resilient. We CAN do this.

It will take time and effort and focus and passion and commitment. But we CAN do it.  And some of what we can do that will have impact is actually relatively simple. But simple should not be confused with three things many Americans have come to expect, or at times demand, in choice selection. Many Americans when making a choice prefer things are 1)easy, 2)quick  and 3) cheap.

We can do this but it won’t be easy or quick or cheap. But it is relatively simple.

Having had the profound honor of personally witnessing amazing personal turn-arounds of nearly completely fractured lives, turn-arounds no one would have ever thought humanly possible, I know we can do this.

What do we do?

That depends on who we are, where we are and where we want to go. Healing and moving forward won’t look the same for any two of us, it won’t begin in the same place, require the same path, or look the same way when we get there. So what we do will look different for each of us.

We are all unique, all different. And there is beauty and strength and power in our differences. And we can employ the power of our differences and do what we need to do, to turn this country and ourselves, around.

In this time of popular “reality” shows, imagine if we all began being a player in a national “reality” show.  Gandhi said, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

Please join us as we begin a discussion of what we can do.

Until next time…


Something We Should All Be Asking Ourselves

In a recent podcast interview with Sinikka Santala of Madison, Wisconsin we asked if there is one question she felt we should all be asking ourselves – click here Sinikka Santala – Something We Should All Be Asking Ourselves to listen to her response or visit to listen to the entire two-part interview on our Procovery Institute iTunes channel!

We found Sinikka’s question both timely and compelling. The current widespread perception seems to be that we are facing ever-mounting crises with ever diminishing resources – or that we are essentially going to hell in a handbasket.

An alternative view however, and a view that formed the strong foundation for everything we have done and continue to do at Procovery Institute, is that this is, most definitely, not the case.  We hold the opposite view. We maintain that the most profound and sustainable transformation often comes about after it looks as though we are going to hell in a handbasket, and as a direct result of crises.

In essence, crises can serve as one kind of powerful fuel for change.

Sinikka’s thoughtful response has inspired us to begin a new blog series, Conversations We Should be Having.

We welcome you to join us, beginning tomorrow, and share this link or email with anyone you feel should be a part of the conversation, as we begin discussing Theodore Roosevelt’s (paraphrased advice), to “do what you can, with what you have, now.”

Until tomorrow…