The Sunday Mail
Hunt for Greatness
Orison Swett Marden once wrote, “There is no medicine like hope, no incentive so great, and no tonic so powerful as expectation of something tomorrow.”
He was right because the medicine for staying alive and sane in a changing, chaotic and complex environment is hope. When promises are dashed, with things looking like they are getting worse, do not despair and do not lose hope.
Keep hope alive, even if the embers are burning low and the clouds are heavy and all you can do is sigh. Keep hope alive and you will outlive every challenge, phase of development and turn of seasons.
What else besides hope could heal the soul, comfort the heart and clear the mind enough to be strategic?
The past is not final and you are not finished. Do not believe lies or tie yourself to fantasies of history. The present is not infinite, but a fast-passing moment. Wisely used with hope, this morning is a beginning point and a launch-pad for your greatness. The future is malleable, shaped by hope and tampered by great yonder goals of prosperity.
Do not give up, do not lose hope and do not stop planning. Do not stop preparing for your moment to play. With hope paint visions beyond your wildest nightmares. Keep re-imagining great things and planning for them. Strategy is best crafted, and desperately executed when things are darkest. You are born for and positioned for greatness and you are the piece that has been missing in action. With hope alive, take action. Do not relent or let up.
Set goals now, new bigger goals that stand on the dangling ropes of hope. Hope does not mean that you should ignore reality and pretend that it does not exist. It means that your account for reality in your strategy and you do not despair because you have hope. Hope allows your eyes to see strategic entry points. Hope shows you the levers of innovation that you need to apply.
Faced with chaos, hope sees a new order and superior models emerging as well as opportunities to engineer chaos into value. Define the strategic issues in the chaos, determine the amount of uncertainty that you cannot account for. This is called the residual uncertainty.
Then filled with hope and faith, start asking how you can shape the chaos or adapt to it. Not all chaos is really chaotic, some of it are just events with a new basis you may not be familiar with. Check what you can do now or later. With hope, walk, but do not run wild.
The worst way to approach chaos is with panicky thoughtless knee-jerk actions. Choose where you will focus and what you will change or how you will change. Chaos does not mean danger, it is opportunity in disguise. Nothing has meaning if you do not lend it the meaning. Hope gives you the spectacles to see further than the smokescreen.
Hope allows you to conserve your energy, focus your action and discipline your thoughts. St Paul, commenting in the Phillips Bible version about his approach to life, wrote in 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and said: “Do you remember how, on a racing-track, every competitor runs, but only one wins the prize? Well, you ought to run with your minds fixed on winning the prize! Every competitor in athletic events goes into serious training. Athletes will take tremendous pains — for a fading crown of leaves. But our contest is for an eternal crown that will never fade. I run the race with determination. I am no shadow-boxer, I really fight! I am my body’s sternest master, for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified.”
Hope gives aim to your blows and meaning to your pain. Stop shadow boxing with fear and engage hope.
Choose your battles carefully, knowing who you are, what your goals are and what hope dances in your heart and fuels your passion. If you are involved in a dog fight, change the rules and become a cat. It is not every battle that is brought to your doorstep that you have to fight. Keep hope alive and fight for a meaningful prize, not just to been seen as a fighter. A rebel without a cause is an empty soul.
With hope, you choose your battles with care and conserve your energy for battles that really matter. With hope you carry the right weapons to the right fight. Do not be tempted to carry a knife to a gun fight. That is not hope, it is stupidity.
Agency is the ability to take action and do things despite the natural pushbacks of life. Agency is the ability to cut through things that hold you back and get things done. Do not let anything into your mind that pulls you back and breeds in you doubt and the disease of inertia. Do not allow negativity to drain your energy and focus.
To keep the sense of agency, surround yourself with possibility thinkers, dreamers and problem solvers. There is no use in surrounding yourself with victims, complainers, moaners and groaners. Quit suck toxic fellowships. Positive interactions will improve your state of mind, tenor of spirit and keep hope alive in you. Hope gives you agency and allows you to keep standing when you are hardest hit. It keeps you running when the thorns of life have pricked you deep.
Position yourself as a learner and never come to a place where your head gets bigger than your body. Stay humble, keep learning and grow. Two Cornell University researchers, David Dunning and Justin Kruger, conducted an important research that has a bearing on learning and urgency, that has come to be called the Dunning-Kruger effect. This effect tells us that the more knowledgeable you are in a particular field of study, the less likely you are to consider yourself an authority in the field.
Conversely, the newer you are to a field of study, the more likely you are to consider yourself an expert. Do not blow your horn early, otherwise it will become a spittoon. When you are new to a field, you tend to be intrigued by all that you are learning and instantly you think you know a lot and you are an expert because of your new discoveries. Those who know a lot know how to behave better. Those who have been in the field know how wide and deep the field is and they therefore take a healthy and humble approach.
When you position yourself as a learner you are willing to explore and keep moving in hope. You are not stopped by momentary success and not daunted by the challenges of the journey. Hope keeps you motivated to learn as you have something bigger to prepare for in the future. There is power in agency. This power is amplified by hope.
Hope says that there is a way, there are paths even if I may not be seeing far and the road ahead looks foggy. Hope locates things in the dark and paths in the maze. Hope keeps you focused on the end-goal and aware that there might be multiple pathways to the goals.
Pathways are the multiple routes to getting to your destination and desired end. Pathways are the key to your strategy articulation and execution. Once your vision is set, plot pathways towards it using rigorous strategic analysis. Hope is always seeking for pathways while wishful thinking just presumes things will happen without plotting clear pathways. Tough times are not the times to through away strategic reflection.
Hope has special body parts. In particular, hope has wings and causes you to fly above the dense clouds of negativity. Emily Dickinson, an American poet, wrote a moving poem entitled “Hope is the thing with feathers.” The poem that should inspire you to keep hope alive reads:
“Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land,
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.”
May this very thing called hope lend you one of its feathers so that where there seems to be no way, you see new pathways. Where you operate in a market that is starved of growth, you may see new growth and product-line extension opportunities. With hope alive you can start innovating, challenging your limitations and playing to win.
Committed to your greatness.
Milton Kamwendo is a leading international transformational and motivational speaker, author, and growth mentor. His life purpose is to inspire and promote greatness. He can be reached at: [email protected] and Twitter: @MiltonKamwendo. His website is: www.miltonkamwendo.com.