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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 dear 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." Those that navigate the chaos understand hope plays an important role in translating dreams into reality.traveled

In his article "The Value of Hope published in Insights by Stanford Business on April 17, 2017, Ian Chipman 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 traveled around the world.

The nuance for today’s reflection stems from director James Cameron’s belief that “Hope is not a strategy. Luck is not a factor. Fear is not an option.” As other Navigate the Chaos posts have illustrated, luck does indeed play a factor. As today’s reflection reminds us, hope only exists when things are going poorly for people. Hope feeds off of fear, uncertainty, and volatility.

In one sense Cameron is correct, hope is not a strategy. Hope alone will not help you navigate the chaos. Hope alone will do little to help you translate your dreams into reality. One cannot will themselves to achieve one goal after another without putting in years of the daily grind, overcoming one obstacle after another, and learning how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. When coupled with dedication, grit, and a belief that tomorrow will be better than today, however, hope can most certainly be a strategy.

  • How often do you have hope?

  • During those challenging and difficult circumstances, how often do you leverage hope with action to navigate the chaos?

  • How often do you allow uncertainty and anxiety to overshadow hope?

  • Do you have people in your life that are allergic to hope and only dwell on the ambiguity of the situation?