In his classic book The True Believer, Eric Hoffer wrote that anyone who would change the world, or a corner of the world, must have the ability to “spark and fan an extravagant hope.”
Last year (which wasn’t that long ago) the CEO of Uber was quoted repeating that inane platitude that “hope is not a strategy” in a message to the company’s employees and drivers.
It was the most ill-advised thing he could say. Hope might not be a strategy, but without hope even the most brilliant strategy is doomed to failure.
Especially in turbulent times, every leader should have astrategy to “spark and fan an extravagant hope” that people will not only survive but will emerge tougher and smarter and thus better prepared for whatever the world throws at them next.
In his first inaugural address, delivered during the darkest days of the Great Depression in 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt told the American people that we have nothing to fear but fear itself.
The very next day bank runs stopped, and despair begin to be replaced with hope. There were a great many strategies rolled out during what became known as FDR’s first hundred days, but he intuitively understood that his most important job was to give hope to the American people.
30 years later, Martin Luther King stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and proclaimed, “I have a dream.” He did not talk about his strategies because he knew that speech would have been forgotten the next day. People marched with King because they shared “an extravagant hope” that their civil rights strategies would change the world.
Hope gives us the courage to confront our fears bravely, to do the things we’re afraid to do but which we know should be done (Wednesday’s promise of The Self Empowerment Pledge).
Hope gives us the belief that, whatever obstacles we will have to overcome, our dreams can be made real.
In challenging times like today, every leader’s Job #1 is to inspire hope in the people who look to them for leadership.
One more thing: There is no such thing as false hope. If you find yourself losing hope, you’re just not looking far enough ahead.
The Hope Diamond
Download The Hope Diamond and put it where you can see it as a reminder to spark and fan your own extravagant hope. And here it is in a 5-minute YouTube video featuring music by Grammy Award winning pianist Laura Sullivan. It’s from my book The Healing Tree.