Hope: According to Dictionary.com the word when used as a verb means “To feel something desired may happen”

The very essence of the word hope brings a smile to my face. Does it make you smile? It should, as hope can provide us with the inspiration and courage it takes to persevere.

Having said that, here is a list of some things I HOPE for…
  1. To win the lottery
  2. A meeting with Warren Buffett
  3. The IQ of Albert Einstein

If you are paying close attention (note sarcasm) you will see a common theme among these things that I am hoping for. Such as, they are highly unlikely and most likely impossible (note item 3).

However, I hear a lot of people, in business and in life that are hoping for things. In business they are hoping for better sales, better profits, great talent, and improved economic conditions. Similarly in life they are hoping for happiness, love, good health and success.

Oddly enough, (not really) based upon a quick count of the 8 items noted above, at least 7 (sales, profits, talent, happiness, love, health, success) can be achieved without the requirement of hope. The last which is regarding “an improved economy” can also be controlled to a lesser extend by focusing on your “microcosm” economy (meaning your own situation) and doing your best to control your individual circumstances.

So what does hope have to do with any of these things? Aren’t these things more or less strategy related?

As leaders, one of our core responsibilities is to be agents in the distribution of hope. This hope is created not by talking about it, but through our actions. Our ability to work through tough situations and generate positive outcomes creates hope for the team. Merely talking about it turns hope into a wish, a pipe-dream, a potentially lost cause.

What I aspire to see both leaders and followers alike take away from this is that our ability to control our outcomes does not reside in hope. Rather, our outcomes are achieved through a combination of focusing on that which we can control and having realistic expectations. Simply stated, if we work hard to control the things we can, but expect too much of ourselves and those around us we will likely be disappointed by the outcome. On the other hand, even low expectations may not be met if we do not control our circumstances. These two things must be in balance to attain desired outcomes.

In my life there are many things I need, some things that I want, and very little that I hope for. The reason I hope for so little is that the things I can control are omitted from the hope column and inserted into the want or need column. This way I decide my course of action, the associated expectation, and then I act. Hope not required. The items that remain in the hope column are things I have no control over, and perhaps more importantly, things that realistically will not make or break my very being.

Hope is a nice thing. It feels good to be hopeful, but when it comes down to it the focus should be on taking control. While I never recommend giving up hope, I request that we see it for what it is and not bet our futures on it. Instead let’s bet on that which we can control.

Is hope your strategy? If so, it is time to take control!