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Hope.

Hope.

Hope can be defined as:

intransitive verb
1:  to cherish a desire with anticipation:  to want something to happen or be true. hopefor a promotion. hoping for the best. I hope so.

transitive verb
1:  to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. I hope she remembers. hopes to be invited
2:  to expect with confidence: trust. Your mother is doing well, I hope.

I have a soft spot for the sentiment of hope.  I feel it as a mixture of sadness and optimism.  Sadness for where you are and optimism for where you would like to be.

I’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout my life, but there is always one thing I would never give up on, and that is hope.  During the difficult times I would tell myself, “You are going through this for a reason.”  And the belief that life would get better always got me through it.  Hope is essentially positive thinking.

Now, I’ve been pondering over this idea of hope for a while.  I actually wrote those opening paragraphs months ago but didn’t have all my thoughts together to finish up this post. And in true fashion where things happen when you need them to, I recently came across the research of C. R. Snyder. Snyder was a psychologist who studied positive psychology.

Snyder believed that hope is not an emotion but a cognitive process.  He believed that hope is a combination of setting goals, believing in ourselves to achieve those goals, and finding a way to produce the result.  He also believed that hope can be learned.  (How cool is that?!)

In terms of children:

Children who have been given the opportunity to struggle, (versus being rescued by a parent during a difficult time), learn how to believe in themselves, assert themselves, and deal with conflict.

But this totally applies in adulthood too.

In leadership, we are taught that sometimes we have to let others fail, so they can learn for themselves.  It’s essentially the same thing as the parent letting their child struggle.  You come out of adversity stronger and more resilient.

Growing up with depression, sometimes, it felt like the only thing keeping me together was hope that it would get better.  I think that this is why I feel so strongly about hope.  It literally saved my life.

I would consider myself a very hopeful person, because it’s still something I hold onto almost everyday.  Though my reasons for feeling hopeful have changed, the need to be hopeful has not.  I don’t know if it was the many years of hopeful practice during depression that has made hopefulness such a norm in my life or not.  But if hope can be learned, then it seems to have definitely proved true in my life.

But back to Snyder…

He believed that how hopeful you are could be measured by The Future Scale.  The Future Scale is a series of questions that combines the score of your Pathway answers and Agency answers for a total Hope Scale score. The Pathway questions measure our perceived ability to produce routes to achieve our goals, and the Agency questions measure our motivation to follow these routes.

So, I was curious as to how hopeful I really am.  Like is this just something I think of myself highly or am I really practicing what I preach here?

When you take the quiz, you’re supposed to read each question carefully.  Of course, I was quite eager to see my results and kind of rushed through the questions.  With a total possible score of 64, I scored 53.

I honestly didn’t expect such a high score and am now kind of wishing I didn’t rush through the questions to see if I would have gotten higher!  But what didn’t surprise me is that my Agency answers scored higher than my Pathway answers.  This actually makes perfect sense.  I have a lot of motivation to achieve my goals, but I don’t always necessarily know how to achieve those goals.  While I already kind of knew this, seeing it in black and white really clarified where I need to put more of my focus, so this has been great feedback.

If you’re curious to see how you’ll score, take the quiz here.

Worry.

Worry.

I’ve been thinking a lot about worry. I’m thinking that it has to be one of the worst emotions. Sadness, pain, rejection – these are all emotions that are felt after an event occurs. Worry is really just anxious anticipation of something bad possibly happening. It’s an unnecessary evil, but also human nature.

I used to think that a little worry was a good thing. It meant that you deeply cared about something enough to actually worry about it. But now, I feel like nothing good comes from worrying. Feeling worry makes me feel worse about everything else too. It’s like all of my insecurities become elevated. And stress is just another form of worry.

Worry doesn’t actually prepare you for the pain, rejection, or sadness that a traumatic event invokes. We worry as a defense mechanism thinking it will ease negative affects, when really, it seems to almost invite things to go wrong. How many times have you reacted with, “I knew something bad was going to happen”?

I’m a big believer in mind over matter, and I truly believe in the Buddha saying “What we think, we become.” I’ve seen this ring true in my own life and in the lives of people close to me.

Everything in life takes work. So while I would like to say, try not to worry and let the chips fall where they may. It’s not that easy. There really is power in positive thinking, and we need to turn that worry into faith, hope and/or prayer.

We may not have the ability to control the outcomes of things in our lives, but we do have the ability to control how we feel about them. Sometimes that means owning our pain and sometimes that means changing our thinking. But this takes a lot of work and practice. We have to self-reflect enough to be self-aware, so we can self-control.

And this is just as much of a reminder for me, as it is for you.

Toxicity.

Toxicity.

I recently saw a quote on Facebook from Jill Blakeway:

“When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others see you.”

Immediately when I read it, I thought about that particular know-it-all.  

We had one specific instance where I wanted something, she knew that I wanted it, and she went out of her way to ensure that I did not get it. And this hurt.  What bothered me the most was that she drug innocent people who did not know our history (of disagreements and dislike) into the fold. 

This instance required a majority vote, and the vote favored the other party that this person sought out. Not only did the know-it-all seek out an alternative because she deeply felt I was not worthy, but she persuaded others to vote against me as well.  This hurt even more.

The quote from Blakeway continues:

“The misinformation will feel unfair, but stay above it, trusting that other people will eventually see the truth, just like you did.”

While I would like to think I’m over this particular situation, truth is, it still stings to think about. But I think that’s why people such as these are referred to as toxic. It takes awhile to feel relief from the symptoms.

Leader.

Leader.

When I think of the words “leader” or “leadership”, part of me wants to roll my eyes at the fluffiness. The terms “manager” and “management” just sounds stronger, more determined and more focused.

When I think of a manager, I think of someone who calls people out on their bullshit. He or she is a numbers person. They get down to business, make the tough decisions, streamline processes, and increase profits. When I think of a leader, the first thing that comes to my mind is people. Leaders are people oriented, while managers are business oriented. A person in a position of leadership needs to excel at both.

But here’s what I think…

People are at the heart of everything we do. Brené Brown says humans are wired to connect with one another. They say the number one reason employees stay at their jobs is because of the friendships they make with coworkers.

The skills of a leader outshine the skills of a manager. Yet, leadership skills seem to be highly underrated.

Leadership is hard to define. And this is coming from someone who has been trained in leadership! There’s talk about “natural born leaders”, and while I think there’s some truth to the thought, I think you need to want to be a leader in order to lead.

Leadership is not for the faint of heart, and there is much, much more to it than what people understand on the surface. When I discuss leadership concepts with people, they agree and may even tell a story that justifies their understanding. But unless they practice what they preach, I have little respect for their opinion. There’s a big difference in thinking and doing, and it’s leaders that differentiate one from the other.