How hopeful are you about the future?
Background to this edition – I was busy writing July's edition of Inspire about making sure you are having enough fun and joy in your life, when the emergency budget was announced and I found myself in a pit of despondency about the economy, my business and a few other things I was worrying about. For regular readers of Inspire, you will know that I am not one of life's natural optimists, it is something I have to work on, sometimes, like now, on a daily basis.
So this morning I was sitting down chanting (regular readers will know I am a Buddhist), and feeling very despondent. Then a favourite quote caught my eye from our Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda, and I decided to scrap the original topic for July (to be aired sometime in the near future) and write about hope. I believe the following quote, titled ‘Making Hope' will strike a chord with people whatever life philosophy you follow:
‘Buddhism teaches that the same power which moves the universe exists within our lives. Each individual has immense potential, and a great change in the inner dimension of one individual's life has the power to touch the lives of others and transform society. When we change our inner determination, everything begins to move in a new direction.
Hope, in this sense, is a decision. When we possess the treasure of hope, we can draw forth our inner potential and strength. A person of hope can always advance.
Hope is a flame that we nurture within our hearts. It may be sparked by someone else – by encouraging words of a friend, relative or mentor – but it must be fanned and kept burning through our inner determination. Most crucial is our determination to continue to believe in the limitless dignity and possibility of both ourselves and others.'
I have to say, just typing that out, having read it on many occasions, stirs my heart and gives me hope.
What do we mean by hope? – Daisaku Ikeda says that hope is a decision, which is an interesting take and is something which most of us probably have not considered before.
I have at times, working with clients in organisations, talked about hope. I remember working with one senior management team in a national organisation who were facing difficult times. When I talked about the importance of giving their staff hope and inspiring them to look beyond the current situation, they looked at me as if I was mad! They said, how could they give others hope when they were not certain that things would turn out OK? But the dictionary defines hope as ‘the feeling that what one wants to happen can happen'. It is a feeling, and we can make the decision whether to feel hope or feel despair.
It is important to focus on the bit that says ‘can happen'. It is about believing that there is a possibility that it can happen, not a certainty, but a possibility. Therefore, if we have hope, if we feel positive and enthusiastic, this will affect our behaviour, and then the chances of it happening are increased.
For example, this autumn I will have to tender for one of my main clients in the public sector whom I have successfully worked with for a number of years. But now all suppliers will be subjected to electronic tendering. Now any of you out there running small businesses will know how tricky this is for us to win this kind of tender. I have a range of choices in my approach: give up, as it is not worth the time and money tendering; begrudgingly tender, but think it is hopeless; tender, but be realistic; or be determined to win and do whatever possible to do so, with the belief that it can be possible to win such tenders. I have chosen the latter, but have to say that given my natural pessimistic tendencies I sometimes slip back into other, more negative ways of thinking.
However, in my positive, hopeful mode I went along to a half day they organised about the tendering process which was very useful. I am also getting involved in a half day focus group for their research on SMEs using the tendering process, as I might learn more to help me, and I can also draw upon some excellent work that I have recently done for them as I write my tender. But as I go through the many questions, I will need to fight to stay positive and full of hope.
What challenges are you facing where hope would be a good choice to make?
What can you do to foster hope in yourself? – If you are not naturally positive, optimistic and full of hope, what can you do to foster hope within yourself? Here are some of the things that I do…
- Do something on a daily basis which lifts your spirits – For some that will be some kind of spiritual practice; for others it might be about being in nature, listening to music, even running. I know a number of mums who run and who say that once they reach that state of flow that everything seems to fall into place and when they return home they feel very different and more centred.
- Listen to your fears – Rather than ignore them (and they start to unconsciously grow) face them fully. For me, to be optimistic involves facing my fears, concerns and any negative emotions head on. This can involve writing in my journal, talking to a good friend, coach or counsellor.
- Focus on what you can influence – Rather than depress yourself or worry about things you can't control, focus on what you can influence, including your state of mind, and you will feel more positive and motivated.
- Exercise regularly – I do notice that if I don't exercise regularly that within a short period of time it impacts on my spirits and emotional health and wellbeing.
- Surround yourself with inspiration – This morning I found the above quote which turned my thinking around. And I am surrounded in my home (I work from home) with inspiring books and quotes that I can turn to, which almost every time I do, provides me with new inspiration.
- Surround yourself with inspiring, supportive people – That doesn't mean you stop seeing the other kind of people, but make sure you speak to the inspiring and supportive people in your life on a regular basis. I've not only got inspiring friends to turn to, but people in my Buddhist and environmental groups that I belong to, who provide me with hope and inspiration.
- Have some fun – Yesterday I got on the phone to start to organise some fun times during the summer. Make sure that you are not so busy either worrying or doing, that you forget to enjoy now and have some fun now.
- Take action – As Joan Baez says below, taking action moves you on. So if you are worried about something, fearing the worse for you, your family or your work, take some action even if it is something from this list to lift your spirits.
What actions are you going to take to foster hope in your life?
‘Action is the antidote to despair.' Joan Baez
Giving hope to others – If you are a manager who is supporting others through tough times it is important to give them hope, to foster hope within them. As a manager watch out for your fears about the future infecting your communication with others, I've often seen it lead to very controlling and critical behaviour, which will not help your team to stay positive and motivated. Deal with your own fears and concerns first so that you can talk to others from a place that is centred on hope. It might be in terms of, ‘We are facing tough times ahead, uncertainty, but we can do this, we can pull together, support each other and win through'. And then be there for them.
Recently I've heard too many stories from staff saying that managers are constantly on their backs as they are worried about targets, finances, etc. Or that they give pep talks, but then disappear, never to be seen again and the promised support isn't there. From a recent school problem solving project students were interviewing staff in an organisation about low morale. One of the key things they found was that ‘saying thank you' goes a long way to helping them to feel more appreciated and valued. If you want to talk in confidence about the issues that you and your team are facing give me a call on 01865 377334 or email me email@example.com
What can you do to assist your team in feeling positive, motivated and more hopeful? What support do they need?
Are you lacking in hope? Then call Melanie on 01865 377334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a time to speak in confidence. Some coaching or a team day might assist you in creating more hope and positivity in yourself and your team. For more information about Grovelands visit our website: www.grovelands.org.uk