top of page

The entire Navigate the Chaos collection of all 365 blog posts is now available in a paperback entitled Navigate the Chaos (795 pages for $24.99). A smaller collection of thoughts from the Navigate the Chaos collection is available in paperback entitled Wonder (94 pages for $4.99)

How often do you have hope?

Today is October 9 and the Navigate the Chaos question to consider is “how often do you have hope?” In the 1994 film The Shawshank Redemption Andy Dufresne played by Tim Robbins wrote about hope in a letter to his friend and fellow prisoner Red played by Morgan Freeman: "Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things and no good thing ever dies."

The concept of hope originated in the Greek phrase dum spiro spero found in the work of Greek poet Theocritus (3rd Century BC), who wrote: "While there's life there's hope, and only the dead have none."

During the 1980s and 1990s, American psychologist Charles Richard Snyder, a specialist in positive psychology, studied human responses to personal feedback, human need for uniqueness, and the hope motive.

Other researchers followed up and conducted studies based on Snyder’s work, with a focus on linking increased levels of hope to academic and athletic performance and physical health and well-being.

The research concluded that those who navigated the chaos of life and achieved success by using hope as a strategy, known as the ‘high hopers,’ gained a more positive outlook on life, and thus was born Snyder’s Hope Theory.

In Snyder’s Hope Theory, hope is the perceived ability to walk certain paths leading to a desired destination and helps people stay motivated along the way. Hope consists of both cognitive elements and affective elements and Snyder’s Hope Theory includes goals, paths, and freedom of choice with three corresponding components:

  • you need to have focused thoughts

  • you must develop strategies in advance in order to achieve these goals

  • you have to be motivated to make the effort required to actually reach these goals

The more the individual believes in their own ability to achieve these three components, the greater the chance that they will develop a feeling of hope.

Another piece of hope research is the article "The Value of Hope by Ian Chipman and published in Insights by Stanford Business on April 17, 2017, where he discusses the work of organizational behavior professor Nir Halevy of Stanford Graduate School of Business. “What’s particularly intriguing about hope, Halevy says, is that “it’s a future-oriented, positive emotion that often emerges in challenging and difficult circumstances.” According to Chipman, “people don’t feel hope when things are great; it’s when they experience a lot of uncertainty and anxiety that hope emerges.”

Halevy’s finding — that the absence of a positive emotion could be more important than the presence of a negative emotion in motivating defensive aggression — is significant because in many situations increasing hope is not nearly as difficult a task as decreasing fear. Hope does not require eliminating the threat.

This is important to remember as there are constant threats as you travel life’s path and navigate the chaos. For Halevy “the fascinating thing about hope, which was noted by the philosopher Baruch Spinoza, is that it coexists with fear. If there is nothing to fear, there’s little reason to feel hope. If we can find ways to increase hope, maybe we can decrease defensive aggression.”

One person who feared business failure and relied on hope was Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. When he wanted to open the first Starbucks in Japan, CEO Schultz had to challenge the status quo. In 1996, Starbucks was advised by a blue-chip consulting company that opening in Japan would be problematic because of many reasons, among which included the high price of real estate, a nonsmoking policy in stores, and a cultural concern that no Japanese consumer would want to be seen carrying anything to eat or drink while walking around outside. Since 80 percent of Starbucks’ business back then was classified as “to go,” this last concern was particularly distressing.

Even though no one at Starbucks had any international experience, and against the conclusions reached by high-priced consultants he hired Schultz challenged the status quo and opened the first Starbucks in Japan. On opening day marked by high humidity and with CNN cameras covering the opening, hundreds of young Japanese people waited to enter the store after Schultz cut the ribbon.

Without advertising and with the Internet in its infancy, news about the Starbucks brand travelled around the world. It is important to remember here that Schultz had focused thoughts, developed strategies to help him open a store in Japan, and was motivated to put in the effort to open the store. In other words, Schultz put into practice the three components of Snyder’s Hope Theory, and therefore, hope was indeed a strategy that the leader of Starbucks used to open its first store in Japan.

  • How often do you have hope?

  • How often do you have focused thoughts?

  • Have often do you develop strategies in advance to translate those thoughts into reality?

  • How often are you motivated to make the effort required to reach each goal you set into place?

  • Is there anyone in your life who can help you be hopeful?

  • Are you providing hope to someone in the pursuit of their dreams?

  • When your life situation is filled with uncertainty and anxiety, how often do you maintain hope amidst the darkness to help you navigate through the chaos?


bottom of page