How great leaders inspire HOPE (and you can too!)

What qualities do tough times bring out in you?  What gets you through, maybe even stronger than before?

For me, that quality has always been hope.  Defined by Wikipedia as An optimistic state of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes with respect to events and circumstances in one’s life or the world at large,” hope is a powerful and nuanced emotion.

Used well it can inspire, fortify, and sustain us through the toughest of times. Used poorly it thrives in and cultivates denial, self-interest, and untruth.

As a writer and business coach, I spend a lot of time thinking about the intersection of entrepreneurship and leadership with purpose, values, and positive impact.

For me, just one example of leadership through hope is NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s NY Tough speech. Grab a tissue 😭 and watch it here:

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My guess is that if you’re reading this blog post, you’re dedicated to building a purpose-driven and profitable business. So, how exactly do we put this powerful emotion to work in our lives and businesses, and inspire our clients to feel and share it too?

Read on for 5 ways hope can help you build a better business and future…

1) Identify your methodology for delivering hope
    • Maybe your zone of genius is creating community and fostering conversation and collaboration. One of my favorite places in the world is Creative Mornings. Now more than ever, the virtual events provide a much-needed hit of inspiration and connection. I leave every monthly gathering feeling more hopeful, inspired, and equipped to keep creating and moving forward.
    • Perhaps your gift is helping businesses, people, and organizations reach, communicate with, and mobilize their audience. In my own little world, I’m finding the brands, businesses, and people whose point of view and values that align with my own. These are the places I engage with and products I purchase.  For example, supporting ecologically friendly brands, along with buying less, helps me feel my dollars are supporting missions I believe in.
    • Perhaps you create art, stories, or poetry that touch the hearts of those in need of solace. Rather surprisingly (to me, at least), poetry has resonated with me in recent months in a way it never has before. My guess is it speaks to my heart in a way I never knew I needed.

Invitation to dig deeper: Where and how is your gift most impactful?

2) Find the people who value and need what you offer

The tougher times are, the easier it is to tell people what they want to hear, sell false hope, and deny the work that true progress requires. Find the clients and people who are up for/to the job.  How do you find your people? Seek people and online communities who embody your values, provide you with spaces to connect with, and hear from those who think like you and show up.  I mentioned Creative Mornings. Be Social Change, and LMHQ are a couple of others that spring to mind.

Invitation to dig deeper: Research events you might want to attend, or communities you might want to explore.

3) Speak to the qualities people want to see in themselves

Going back to why the N.Y. Tough video is so powerful. Cuomo speaks directly to the qualities New Yorkers are proud of. He speaks to diversity, inclusion, and belonging no matter who you are. He speaks to creativity, audacity, tenacity, resilience, and street smarts. Who doesn’t want to identify with these qualities? (I know I do!) And for those who don’t, that’s cool. They can sit this one out, he’s not talking to them.

Invitation to dig deeper: What is the “why” you want people to identify with? How is it different from the “what” or “how”?

4) Create a path towards a better future

Words without deeds are worthless. Hope requires a plan. This is where we move from the “why” above to the “what” and the “how”. How will you help your clients or community move from a dismal state of affairs to something better? What will be expected of them? What does their involvement require?  How long will it take?  What support will you provide them with? What information, tools and support will they need and how will you provide it?

Invitation to dig deeper: Leadership and hope require a plan you can communicate, and that your people can understand and buy into. What might your plan look like (rough sketches and ideas are welcome!)?

5) Be prepared to iterate as you go

Hope is not something you find, lock into place, and then build back from. It’s a spark of something within, a calling forth. You’ll need to check your perfectionism, fear of failure, and criticism at the door and iterate at you go. I know, easier said than done, right?

But you’re a creator. You’re as qualified as anyone is for the job. And people need your gifts.

Invitation to dig deeper: Put the seed of your version of hope out into the world. Tend to it, nurture it, even if no one seems to be listening. They will be soon enough.

And now I’d love to hear from you. What’s sparking hope in you right now? How are you fanning the flames of that hope into something you can build upon and share? Please share a comment about what’s come up for you below!

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