Hope is an integral part of the human experience.
Hope is that last bit of string that we hold on to that connects us to a future that’s different. Better.
Hope keeps us from falling into the abyss of hopelessness where we self-destruct and start acting against the very things we hold dear to us…keeps us alive in desperate situations so we can dream about a future that isn’t so bleak.
I saw this first hand in Iraq during the war when I was doing consulting. Meeting and talking to people, you can see that so many of them were clinging to the final shred of hope.
Some had lost their grip and didn’t see any hope for the future. Living with hopelessness makes people do dangerous things and we have examples of that all around us, every single day.
But there is a dark and sinister side to hope
I’ve seen hope rob people like a pickpocket on the streets of Paris, only to look back years later and wonder “Where did the time go? Why am I here and not there? Dammit. Why didn’t it work out?”
You see, when times are hard, hope is that lifeline we need to remain human and not descend into our prehistoric animal instincts.
”When you have a roof over your head, food on the table and clothes on your back, hope is dangerous.Todd Herman
Hope…paralyzes you. And that’s the hidden underbelly of hope. The great fallacy.
Because hope is what keeps you in a fantasy world in your own head, where unicorns, rainbows and pots of gold prance, dance and glimmer.
Everything is amazing, and it’s comforting, right? Because the power of the imagination allows us to feel and experience those intoxicating thoughts in the present.
You see, as long as you stay in that fantasy world in your head, you don’t actually have to take action on learning a new skill, starting a new endeavor or whatever it is you really want to do.
Because the moment you take action, you’re now confronting your reality. You’ve given up that fantasy world of hope and it can never be that way again.
The unicorns, rainbows and pots of gold aren’t there. And you’re now confronted with effort, work and challenge. And so most people stay locked into multi-year staring matches with hope.
Like Mark Twain said, “most people die at 25, but aren’t buried until 75
They spend a lifetime daydreaming and clinging to the fallacy of hope.
Right now, wherever you might be, you have what I call the Gap of Uncertainty ahead of you. That distance between where you are and your fantasy world or your goal or your vision for the future.
And that gaping void of uncertainty is scary to many because you know things never look and happen the exactly the way you imagine it in your head.
The unicorn becomes a bear, the rainbow is a downpour and pot of gold is a pot of dirt. But there’s nothing more inspiring than seeing, hearing or meeting the person with a few claw marks, drenched head to toe with some dirt under their nails.
Because that’s a story and hero’s journey we all get inspired by. It makes us all better.
”It's hard to beat a person who never gives upBabe Ruth
So, how do you keep hope alive and still move forward?
Well, it’s something I teach called The Positive Power of Negative Preparation.
You see, when you’re mentally prepared for the inevitability that things will go wrong, days will be tough and setbacks are a foregone conclusion… When you’re prepared for the fact that reality is gonna look a lot different than the pie in the sky vision…
You’re not expecting yourself to fail because of this. You’re expecting yourself to adjust, manoeuvre and tap into new resources to make whatever your goal is a reality.
Just remember, inside of that gap of uncertainty is a version of yourself you’ll be excited to meet.