Years ago, someone said to me, "People love your talks so much because you don't just give them philosophical insights and practical ideas, you give them hope." That's stayed with me ever since. I hope it's true.
We all need hope. And yet, we often find ourselves without it, in some context. Things go badly. A difficult situation arises. And we feel helpless to do anything about it. When we feel helpless, we soon begin to feel hopeless, as well. And there's a reason for this.
In a psychological experiment which makes me glad I'm not a psychologist, a thermostat, or climate control mechanism, was installed in a factory. People for the first time could walk over and set the device, raising or lowering it. Finally, they felt a sense of control over their environment for the first time. Morale went up. And if I'm remembering this well, so did their work performance. People felt better about their jobs. And yet what they didn't know is that the control wasn't connected to anything but the wall. Yeah. A philosopher wouldn't do that. But here was the conclusion: Even a false belief that we have a measure of control improved our emotions and performance. When we don't feel any sense of control, or even influence over a challenging situation, we lose a measure of hope.
I prefer to give people hope through truth, not illusion. But what exactly am I giving, and how can I be in a position to do this at all?
Hope is not the same thing as belief. When we hope for a better future, we're not necessarily believing that the future will be better, only that it can be. But the state of hope goes beyond that. The possibility conviction is joined to an attitude of positive expectation, again, different from actual belief, but closely aligned to it. Like belief, hope can be rational or irrational. And like belief, its status as such is connected with matters of evidence. But hope looks beyond actual belief, and beyond the existing evidence, to wait expectantly for a better future.
The New Testament speaks of Faith, Hope, and Love. Faith is about trust. Love is about commitment. Hope is about patient expectation and positive values. We're told that love is the greatest of these things, because with the right commitments, faith and hope can flourish. And when you think about it deeply enough, you quickly realize that we can't do great and creative work without faith, hope, and love.
How then do I give hope to people? By bringing them the wisdom of the ages for how they can improve their lives and business endeavors. I give people tools - old tools, and great ones that have proved their worth over centuries of use. And I show people how to use them. Then, they expect more strongly than ever the better future that can be theirs, in personal or professional things.
And their response - and for some of you readers, I know I can say "your response" - loops back to undergird my own hope for the future that we all need. Thanks, as always, for reading. And thanks for any comments.