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Leadership Job #1 is to Spark and Fan Extravagant Hope

This is my working definition of hope, from a slide I shared in my presentations at the 5 hospitals of Lee Health in Fort Myers, Florida last week. Relentless Optimism + Relentless Determination = Hope.

Relentless Optimism is a refusal to give in to doom and despair even when facts on the ground would make that easy to do.

Relentless Determination is a commitment to hold tight to the vision of a positive outcome and to get back up every time you fall down.

Last year I gave the opening keynote address for the annual conference of the Association of California Nurse Leaders (ACNL). As part of the event Dr. Kimberly C. Long, association CEO and an exemplar of relentless optimism + determination, had a 12-foot high popup made of this nurse and gave her the name ReNe – the ReleNtless RN.

Last week in Fort Myers I met dozens of people whose homes, and lives, had been impacted by Hurricane Ian last October. I was impressed by the spirit of relentless optimism and determination I saw everywhere I went. Not just to rebuild – homes, jobs, lives – after the storm, but to rebuild everything stronger and better.

One nurse leader put it this way: Through covid, through the hurricane, we never lost sight of the light at the end of the tunnel, but we also knew there would always be another tunnel, and that we would need to be ready.

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.”

Especially in turbulent times like those in which we live, spark and fanning that sort of extravagant hope is Leadership Job #1.