"Okay, then what is it?" - Chuck Reaves
This is a busy time of year. In addition to all of the family and holiday events, we are also beginning to focus on the upcoming year. Somehow, we will find the time to set our goals and make our plans for next year. This is because we have conditioned ourselves to the false belief that old plans end on December 31 and new ones begin on January 1. I believe in a rolling six-month plan, but that's a subject for another day. Right now, let's factor in the importance of hope when looking into the New Year.
A plan without hope is like a musician without passion. They can play all of the notes but there is little excitement or energy in the music. The musician and the listener enjoy it less. In sales, this means that the salesperson and the customer enjoy the vendor-client relationship less.
Hope is energy. Hope keeps us motivated when the odds are against us. Even when others are telling us and explaining to us why we cannot succeed with our plans, hope becomes the driving force.
Here is a definition of hope for you to consider:
Having Opportunities to Perform Extraordinarily.
We have these every single day. Every day there are opportunities for us to go above and beyond our normal levels of performance. We can put extra effort into preparing for a sales call. We can help a colleague with something they are doing. We can go the extra mile with a total stranger.
You've been there. On an occasion you bettered your personal best. You proved to yourself that you can perform at a higher level. It gave you hope that, perhaps, you could do it again - or maybe every time in the future. It gave you hope.
Extraordinary performance is not doing something so notable that it earns you the Nobel Prize. In fact, your extraordinary performance may not even be noticed by most people. Extraordinary simply means more than ordinary. Doing or giving just a little bit more than usual is extraordinary performance. You have done this before when you went the extra mile for someone - how did you feel afterwards? Depressed? Despondent? No, you felt energized.
It was the middle of a rough time for me - personally, professionally, physically and financially. I crossed paths with a young man from Africa in an airport. He was lost. I set aside the focus on my problems and the hoped-for solutions, and asked what I could do for him. As I led him to his gate he told me that he had seen his first escalator that day. He was awed by the number of people, the goods in the shops and the selections of food. It turned out he was hungry and had little money so I introduced him to America's best/worst foods: hot dog, fried chicken, ice cream. Afterwards, I felt hopeful. Why, do you think?
Recognizing that there are opportunities to perform extraordinarily lifts our spirits and gives us hope. Only focusing on our woes and shortcomings can do nothing to instill hope, can it? We are not victims as long as we take advantage of H.O.P.E.
We hope for better, right? Create your own "better". Don't depend on others; begin creating your own hope right now.
Hope From Leaders
As I have explained before, if you are a leader you must recognize that everything you say is amplified and everything you do is magnified. People are watching you. You're not entitled to a bad day.
Now add H.O.P.E. to your job description.
It is a leader's responsibility and privilege to protect hope.
When it does not exist, create it. When it does, protect it.
Expect, in fact demand, that the people you lead perform extraordinarily even in the face of what may seem like certain defeat.
Occasionally someone will ask how I earned a Bronze Star in Vietnam. On the night I earned it, our situation was hopeless. We were being overrun by a larger and determined force. The situation was hopeless but we weren't. We learned through that adversity that we were capable of extraordinary performance.
Today, you have the opportunity to perform extraordinarily. You will experience H.O.P.E. It may be through adversity or it may be through favor. What will you do with it?
Chuck Reaves, CSP, CPAE, CSO
Speaking/Motivational resources: www.ChuckReaves.com