Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Your business needs hope (and so do you!)

Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
Vaclav Havel

I like this quote more than I agree with it. I think hope does involve the ability to believe that a good result is possible. But I take Havel's point that we can withstand failure if it makes sense. Despair is believing that what we do makes no sense and no difference. Hope is believing that our results are predictable (if only in retrospect).

An entrepreneur I know well says that she tells her staff that "Hope is not a strategy." That's too bad. It sounds as though she has heard too many people say they hope something will happen when what they mean is that they think it will not happen. We all do that from time to time: we try to replace real analysis with fake hope.

Real hope requires more from us. Real hope asks that we take our efforts seriously, knowing that they will lead to meaningful results. This is why hope is a virtue in some religions. Hope requires that we be accountable for our actions because we believe that it is possible our actions can generate tangible and meaningful results in the world.

If you are running a business, this is the most important reason you need your team to have a strong commitment to believing that good things are possible. You want everyone who works with you to believe that s/he has a meaningful impact on results.
That's the first step in getting results that are as good - or better - than predicted.

Hope is not something you have - it's something you do. When you do it intentionally, you look for evidence that the things you want are possible and you gather the skills and resources that you will need to work towards those things. That sounds a lot like setting goals and objectives - a practice followed in most businesses. Goals and objectives make no sense unless it is possible to make good things happen. Believing it is possible is the work of hope.

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