I had always thought of ‘hope’ simply as a thought or feeling. A mindset associated with optimism and the possibility of something better. And indeed it is, and sometimes getting into a hopeful frame of mind is pretty challenging in its own right.
But increasingly I know that a hopeful mindset isn’t enough. It’s basically saying to yourself ‘fingers crossed’ and, frankly, when has crossing fingers ever really helped? The hope inside your head is just a starting point. It only becomes real when you start to take action. That action might be a tiny step such as the first peek at the website for a career development programme, or deciding to switch off the phone half an hour before bed. But that tiny step is important because it signifies the point at which your hope started to translate into reality. One of the great things about the DrivenWoman approach is that it helps us pay attention to those tiny steps, celebrating each one and building hope to take the next.
When I started working for myself, I was hopeful about the future. I believed I had valuable skills and knowledge to offer and although my network was initially small, it was a good source of opportunities. I traded pretty well for a while on hope and it got me settled into my new groove.
Hope isn’t much of a business plan.
But just hoping that the business would work out wasn’t enough. It was when I set out to take more deliberate action, to turn my hopes for successful self-employment into building the reality of a more sustainable business, that things really started to move forward. And that’s another way in which I’ve found that the DrivenWoman network helps. There’s a real focus on action – by all means dream, but what are you actually going to do to make it happen? Oh, and make sure you tell us next month how you got on!
The other thing I’ve increasingly realised about hope is that it isn’t really about our own lives. The hopes (and the fears that sit on their flipside) that really inspire us to take action are about other people. For some, it’s about creating hope for their children and future generations. For me, it’s about hoping that workplaces will increasingly operate in ways that draw out the best from each of us, so that working lives are fulfilling and enjoyable as well as successful.
For others, it may be about offering hope to people whose circumstances can seem pretty hopeless. Like my local independent coffee shop, which opened up not to get on the coffee bandwagon but because the owners wanted to use fairtrade and a share of their profits to support projects in Zimbabwe. Or DrivenWomen like Emilia Lahti, who is creating a movement which unlocks human potential and celebrates overcomers of interpersonal violence.
When hope is turned into reality it can transform lives of people around you.
These activities might not change the world (although I’m hoping they will), but they have and will change the worlds of individuals, bringing hope and possibilities that weren’t there before.
Even if we think that what we do may be a drop in the ocean, the hope that we could give hope to even one other person means we give it a go anyway. Because, to go back to where I began, hope does start out as a thought or feeling.
As Desmond Tutu said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”. Sometimes the way that we find it is by first seeing the hope that others are offering.
Now the only challenge that remains is to translate that hope into action and into reality. Then we can really make a change in the lives of others and see a transformation in our own lives.
What do you need to do see that light within yourself? And how can you take action so that others are able to see it too?
Katie Driver is a DrivenWoman Group Leader in Wimbledon and founder of coaching company Thinking Alliance. The next Introduction evening for the DrivenWoman Wimbledon group is on Wednesday 10th of May 6:45 pm. Get tickets here.