Hope is such an important part of life. It is our belief system about our future. This poem by John Maxwell paints a vivid picture of the huge impact hope has in our lives.

What Does Hope Do For Us (by John Maxwell)

Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
Hope energizes when the body is tired.
Hope sweetens while bitterness bites.
Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
Hope believes when evidence is eliminated.
Hope listens for answers when no one is talking.
Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
Hope endures hardship when no one is caring.
Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.

So the question is … If hope is this powerful, then why do so many people fail to turn hope into reality?

To answer this question we must first understand how hope works in our brain. The brain is hardwired to hope. But interestingly enough, it is our experiences that actually create the hope. A simple definition of hope is: our beliefs about the future. So in order to understand how to turn hope into success, we must understand the basic way beliefs are created in the brain:

From this diagram we can see that hope is created from experiences. Since experiences are so impactful, it is important that we help create these experiences for anyone in which we would like to instill hope. These are the 5 areas that define the experience.Is it (does it):

1. Positive
2. Meaningful
3. Create Hope
4. Confirm Hope
5. Magnify Hope

Our brain gives meaning to everything. Those meanings are conclusions, and those conclusions become our beliefs. As the diagram notes, our beliefs become the foundation of every decision and action we take in life. With that understanding, let’s look at some common roadblocks that stop hope from becoming reality.

Hope Killers

Confirmation of Hope – I once heard Jim Carey (the actor and comedian) state that “hope is a beggar.” What a profound statement. It speaks to something very insightful – hope requires experiences to confirm it. So often people have such high hopes but fail to realize the importance of creating the experiences to keep hope a reality in the brain. Keep in mind that without positive experiences to confirm it, hope will look for a new home.
Great business people understand that the “customer experience” is the foundation of all business. If we focus there, then success tends to follow. While the creation of new relationships is fundamental to business growth, when the pursuit of a new relationship takes the priority over servicing existing relationship, I suspect you will find long-term success in business a massive challenge. My takeaway: Define your brand and business not by just creating hope but more by turning hope into reality.

Making Hope Stronger – Not all beliefs are weighted the same. To strengthen hope, we have three simple strategies. 1. We can strengthen the importance of any belief by tying emotion to it. As it relates to belief, the power of emotion has a greater impact than the power of logic. When you FEEL the pleasures and pain associated to hope, then your brain will give it more value. 2. We can use habits to strengthen beliefs. A belief that becomes confirmed over and over again has more value to your brain. This is why habits like affirmations can be so powerful. Anytime a belief is repeated over and over again, it becomes a stronger part of us. 3. We can elevate hope to faith. What is the difference? Hope requires experiences to confirm it. Faith will exist regardless of what experiences challenge it. You might notice that these three “accelerants of hope” have something in common – they define us and become part of our identity and core values. The greatest power that lies within us is our identity. If our hope gets tied to our identity, it will make hope stronger.

Law of GOYA – This diagram is something that was shared with me. It is simple to understand and makes an important statement:

We all have intentions. They are our dreams and visions. They are our THOUGHTS about the future. They are the foundation of all hope and what we want from life. For many people, our INTENTIONS need ATTENTION. In other words, we have to turn thoughts into something tangible. Common ways this is done: goals, vision boards, journals, and affirmations. It can be very powerful when you attach habits and emotions to the ATTENTION strategies. However, the Law of GOYA seems to be the major difference between those who dream and those who achieve their dreams. GOYA stands for “Get Off Your Ass”. The message is simple. You can dream all you want. You can make goals from now to eternity. However, success lies in actions, so it is activity that becomes the bridge that turns dreams into reality. When discipline defines who you are, not just what you are chasing, then you will become a person who can make anything possible.

Unrealistic Hope – It is natural for people to dream big. Sometimes this is self-inspired, while other times it is encouraged by someone “marketing hope.” People innately want to believe in a better future. This is why it’s important to remember that unrealistic hopes lead to disappointment. ACTIONS and ACTIVITIES must be a means to feed that hope. If not, then really all we have is a dream void of the work required to turn it into reality. If you are not currently acting on your hope and vision, then I encourage you to make hope a JOURNEY, not an end. Set the first target for hope, and then work to achieve it. When you achieve that hope, then set a target for a new hope. This strategy will strengthen your belief in striving for the next hope and also your confidence to reach your ultimate vision. Finally, understand that all hope will likely require both work and growth. It is seldom just a function of time. In my opinion, the best way to turn hope into reality is to fall in love with the process of making dreams come true. That is a life driven by passion, not one defined as work. As one of my mentors used to say, “Fall in love with the journey of life vs. suffering by obsessing about the future.”

In closing, I’d like to offer one more thought. For those of you that love to “market hope,” please recognize it comes with a major risk. What happens when hope becomes your answer to every problem and you fail to invest in the experiences, actions and growth required to transform hope into reality? Over time, this strategy will likely cost you something very important in life – trust. While the foundation of this thinking might be “inspiration,” I have found more people are inspired by results (especially the results we produce in others) than the promise you can produce them. Don’t make the mistake of letting selling hope define you. Instead, make your life about turning hope into reality. I encourage you to dream, but aspire to be a person that helps make dreams come true.

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