Behind bars in the brutal Robben Island Prison, Nelson Mandela wrote to Winnie, his wife. He was confined to a small cell without a bed or plumbing and compelled to do hard labor in a lime quarry. Once every six months, Winnie was allowed to visit. Prisoners were subjected to inhumane punishments; it was reported that guards buried him and other inmates in the ground up to their necks before urinating on them.
Imagine Winnie as she carefully holds one of their cherished connections in her hands. In this letter, dated June 23, 1969 her husband writes, “Hope is a powerful weapon no one power on earth can deprive you of.”
The power of hope
Hope is occupied with the future and committed to possibilities. Hope ignites your imagination to dream … again. Hope speaks as a visionary pointing to “There” — to a preferable future. Hope is not preoccupied with the past or the present. Hope nurtures a confidence that calls for action. Ah, the power of hope!
Yes, hope has power. It stirs the ability or capacity to achieve, to accomplish or to be and to do. Consider the role of hope in Nelson Mandela’s story. Just think, twenty-seven years in prison. Yet, while in confinement he earned a bachelor of law degree, served as a mentor to his fellow prisoners, and wrote his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom” and so much more.
And from that dark pit, he wrote, “Hope is a powerful weapon….”
Climate of hope
Leaders understand the value of cultivating a positive emotional climate in order to lead change. Hope supports the journey from “Here” to “There” … to achievement of the vision.
In their book, Resonant Leadership, Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee point out the connection between hope and positive emotions such as positive thoughts, superior coping abilities, and less depression. The affect on behavior includes “how effectively we reason and think, how we interact with other people, and what we are capable of doing. Specifically, positive emotions impact our openness and cognitive flexibility, problem-solving abilities, empathy, willingness to seek variety, and persistence.” (P. 152) How would your workplace change more of these behaviors … and, your influence?
Leaders cast vision and must create an environment that allows the self-managed team to meet the challenges. Boyatzis and McKee write about creating a climate for achievement. You notice it is…
…very positive, marked by excitement, passion, and hope for the future. This is the kind of climate that all effective leaders create. They do so in part by stimulating others to think about the possibilities and to look ahead. They and the people around them are pulled to the future.” (P. 150)
To tap into the power of hope leaders…
- Needs to have dreams and aspirations, but also be in touch with those of the people around him or her. This helps to form the desired image of the future.
- Needs to be optimistic and believe in his or her ability to make change.
- Must see the desired future as realistic and feasible. (P. 152)
What do you hope for?
Tapping into the power of hope and creating a climate of hope are essential whether applied to a large company, small business, or your personal life. Looking toward the future use these questions to dream your dream.
- What is your dream?
- What does the new reality look like in your Story? Describe what you see.
- What must you release in order to pursue your dream?
- What seeks to steal your hope?
Here’s to your dream,