In John Maxwell’s first book, Think on These Things, hewrote an entire chapter on hope. There’s one line that has stuck with me since I read it 25 years ago: “Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.”
Hope gives—I love that! Even when no one believes, hope gives. Even when the circumstances seem too far-gone, hope gives. Even when you have hit the bottom with no plan for getting out, hope gives.
What does it give?
Hope gives the motivation and courage needed to succeed.
It’s been said that a person can live forty days without food, four days without water, four minutes without air, but only four seconds without hope.
I realize that’s a bit trite, but nonetheless, hope is a powerful thing. It’s the fuel to keep moving forward when times get tough. It brings enthusiasm for the future. And, sometimes, it even supplies enough reason to live.
More often then not, a lack of hope and a lack of energy go hand in hand. It is very difficult to walk through difficult times and cope with life’s challenges without hope. But the person that’s full of hope is motivated to welcome life and all the challenges it brings.
Regardless of your current condition or circumstance, you can be a person who gives hope. These three things will help you get there:
1. Choose Hope
Hope is embedded deep inside the men and women who learn from their losses. These people choose hope, even in times of defeat, knowing that it will motivate them to learn and eventually find victory.
In The Dignity of Difference, Jonathan Sacks writes, “Optimism is the belief that things will get better. Hope is the faith that, together, we can make things better. Optimism is a passive virtue; hope is an active one. It takes no courage to be an optimist, but it takes a great deal of courage to have hope.”
It takes courage to choose hope because hope can be disappointed. But having the courage to choose it will always be rewarded.
2. Find Small Victories
Start small! Big success is a result of many small victories. The beautiful thing about this approach is nothing encourages hope like success. When you experience a victory and begin to understand how it works, you are learning to succeed.
Historian Joseph M. Marshall III said, “Success is rarely the result of one swell swoop, but more often the culmination of many, many small victories.”
3. Change Your Thinking
People give up when they lose hope. This happens when their thinking is constantly negative and their expectations of themselves perpetually dive lower.
Norman Cousins says, “People who fear the worst tend to invite it. Heads that are down can’t scan the horizon for new openings. Bursts of energy do not spring from a spirit of defeat. Ultimately, helplessness leads to hopelessness.”
In life, we see what we are prepared to see. And what we see is determined by our thinking. The good news is—your thinking can be changed.
The one loss that no one can afford to experience is the loss of hope. Its power lies in the motivation it provides to learn and grow beyond your current circumstance. No matter how difficult or trying the times, hope believes there is always a better way for the future.
From my experience leading teams, the most important thing I can do for my people is to give hope. Before every meeting, I set aside intentional time to consider ways that I can give hope to individuals and to the team.
I want to challenge you to do the same. Think about each person on your team and ask yourself two questions:
1. What are their strengths?
2. What are their goals?
I use these questions because I have learned that I must know what each person is good at and what he or she wishes to accomplish in order to give hope.
If you struggle to give hope, practice the three things that I shared with you above: choose hope, change your thinking, and find small victories. I believe successful leaders have mastered this. And I believe you can too!