The Power of Hope.

Joan Marques - Ed.D., MBA.
Burbank, California

"Before you give up hope, turn back and read the attacks that were made on Lincoln." (Bruce Barton)

I would like to take the above quote one step further: Before you ridicule hope, consider Lincoln's entire life and career! One of America's most impressive, unforgettable presidents had a long list of failures and belittlements before he finally became the country's first man in a very crucial and dramatic time for the country’s history: He lost jobs, failed in business ventures, dealt with deaths of several loved ones at young ages, and was defeated at least six times while climbing the political ladder toward the presidency. Now, that was a man who had all reasons to hang his head and give up hope. Yet, he did not!

But Lincoln is not the only one we can think of when we contemplate on the subject of hope.

  • Think Nelson Mandela, the great South African leader who remained imprisoned for 27 years before he could start establishing righteousness in his country. And even when he became the great liberator of South Africa, he was unable to maintain his decennia-long marriage to his wife Winnie.
  • Think Gandhi, who is known as one of the greatest people in the twentieth century. He also had his share of failures and human shortcomings: aside from the fact that he successfully fought for civil rights in South Africa and the annihilation of the caste system in India, he also had to witness the painful destruction of his dream of a non-violent India. On a personal note, Gandhi is said to have been an abysmal family man with a mean streak.
  • Think Dr. Martin Luther King, who successfully led the civil rights movement in the United States, but was post-mortemly dishonored with the rumors and confirmation of his plagiarism of the famous "I have a dream" speech, as well as an intrinsic part of his doctoral dissertation.
  • Think Jesus Christ, whose greatness really started soaring several centuries after his death, and whose name till this day lives on in one of the world's largest religions. However, Jesus, too, had been banned from his hometown by elders, who were unwilling to accept the advices from this changed young man wanting to teach them new ideas and visions. Jesus' assassination at a fairly young age, like M.L. King's and Lincoln's, was just one more point on his list of perceivable downfalls.
  • And yet, all these people have a few things in common: their names remain in history as great ones; they established radical change on a large scale; they believed in their calling; and they had hope. No matter how many times they were ridiculed or browbeaten, they stood up: time and again.

    Hope determines our attitude: if we lose our hope we tend to give up or give in, but as long as we maintain our hope, we keep going for our goals; we keep getting up, every time we fall. Seen in that light, hope is also the cornerstone of success. A well-known quote says that success is getting up one more time than you fall. Who would do that without hope?

    Hope may be seen as one of the most frequently discussed and maybe also most regularly ridiculed emotions. Many great people have recognized hope as an important phenomenon in the human life. Aristotle described hope as a waking dream. Cyrus Bartol saw hope as the parent of faith. Erich Fromm defined hope as a readiness at every moment for that which is not yet born. Norman Vincent Peale encouraged his audience to cease talking defeat and start using words as hope, belief, faith, and victory. Art Linkletter linked ones future destination to a responsible balance between memory and hope. Napolean defined hope as the product leaders deal in. Vaclav Havel distinguished the difference between hope and optimism by clarifying that hope is "not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out." Oliver Goldsmith defined hope as the light on our path through the darkness. Emily Dickinson perceived hope as an activity of the heart that never wears out. Charles Dickens poetically described hope as heaven's gift to struggling mortals. And Martin Luther King claimed that, while disappointment is finite, hope is infinite.

    So, where does hope fit in business? Everywhere, of course!

    • No entrepreneur takes the risk of starting a venture without possessing a healthy dose of hope. So, hope is also a solid foundation to risk taking.
    • No leader maps out a strategy without hoping that the course of matters will work out as envisioned. So, hope, beside knowledge of the market, factual information about consumer expectations, and calculated extensions of past trends, is also the foundation in strategizing.
    • No manager plans out the daily, weekly, or monthly schedules without hoping that orders will keep coming in, employees will remain motivated, machines will remain in-tact, and the market will not crash. So, hope is also crucial in day-to-day performances.
    • No worker at any level will continue to perform excellently at work without hoping that his or her efforts will be recognized and remembered when time for raises or promotions occur. In this regard, as in various others, hope also stands in line with endurance: it's all about hanging on and believing.

    From the impressions presented above, we can thus state that there are many emotions underlying, surrounding, and radiating from hope: attitude, action, success, endurance, patience, resilience, postiveness, risk-taking, goal-setting, strategizing, and belief, to name a few. Hope is therefore a powerful phenomenon that, no matter how often ridiculed, can never be discarded as insignificant. It is the driver behind our actions, the fuel in our pipes, the wind beneath our wings.

    If hope is mere
    Disappointment postponed
    Then we are here
    Like empty carcasses cloned
    Then efforts are
    A waste of time
    So welcome war;
    hello there, crime!

    If hope is but
    An empty farce
    Then we should cut
    Our aim at stars
    And – from now on
    Grow wild and cruel
    Perceive the sun
    As one big fool

    But if – as some say
    "Hope is life"
    Then every day
    Is worth a dive
    In this great pool
    Of sparkling chances
    Personality being the tool
    To stretch all fences.