Resilient Hope Self-Awareness

What Kind of Hope?

Last year I reviewed Anthony Ray Hinton’s powerful book, The Sun Does Shine. It is the autobiography of a man who spent most of his life––28 years––on death row, wrongly accused of robbery and murder. Throughout that time, he was confined in a small cell until the trial was fundamentally questioned and he was released.

What I found remarkable above all else was that this man found the resources within himself not to give up. In fact, he seemed to grow in hope. It was not a linear growth; Hinton did have his setbacks, very low moments, such as when the person dearest to him, his beloved mother, died before he could get out, hug and care for her.

However, resilience does not do justice to what the man evidenced over those years. It was something more.

Relevance to now

Our temporary loss of freedoms at this time of pandemic seem trivial in comparison with Hinton’s story. Yet there are valuable lessons to learn from his story as well as those of others in more extreme situations.

In our shared humanity, it is imperative that we each need to learn how to live and grow in hope during this pandemic, amidst all our present circumstances, its threats, the personal losses and confinements.

A Fragile Hope

Most of us seem to live from our external circumstances, and the media has an attention-seeking agenda to make it appear that these circumstances are dire. One day we hear positive news of medical breakthroughs or falling rates of COVID-19 infections; the next day, there is some more bad news.

Living from our circumstances like this, focusing on the negatives, is a fragile way to live emotionally. We become like Homer Simpson, who one moment yells, Yippee!, and the next, emotionally turns on a sixpence with a Doh!. He then repeats the cycle. This is not living with any kind of emotional intelligence. I fear that the long-term effect this has is that the negative wins and we are led into deeper depression and despair. The Yippee! becomes rarer and rated and the Doh! becomes habitual.

Should We Aim for Resilient Hope?

I have recently been reading Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s book, Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder. I had assumed that the opposite of fragility is resilient.

Resilience rather is something different. In engineering, machines are made to withstand stress within certain parameters… and beyond these limits, they suddenly break. In this sense, they are designed to be resilient.

Taleb argues that there is a certain class of phenomena that are neither and that the true opposite of fragile is not resilient, rather something he calls Antifragile. It is a phenomenon we see in the natural world of something growing through the right kind of stress. He uses a number of illustrations from the medical world, such as our bones, which actually gain strength from moderately acute stress.

Taleb’s Triad (My Visual Interpretation)

If we aim merely for resilient hope, it could break us emotionally.

And maybe this is what we have seen happening among many of us when it came, for example, to the New Year. Some of us caught ourselves hoping that a New Year would me a different, liberating year. 2020 had become synonymous with COVID-19 and lockdowns. We indulged ourselves with thoughts such as, Surely this New Year will be better?

And maybe this is what we have seen happening among many of us when it came, for example, to the New Year.

And, for many of us, it just isn’t. In fact, for many of us, it is worse. Doh! doesn’t do justice to the disappointment and emotional tailspin that we might experience. For some, this has become a spiral of depression and despair to something worse.

The Stockdale Paradox

See another earlier article I wrote on Stockdale here. Admiral James Stockdale was the highest-ranking American officer to fall into the hands of the enemy during the Vietnam War.

050706-N-0000X-001 Navy File Photo: Newport, R.I. (1979) – portrait of Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale, while President of the U.S. Naval War College. U.S. Navy Photo by Journalist 1st Class Rick Doyle (RELEASED)

After seven and a half years of imprisonment and torture, Stockdale was finally released and returned to his home country.

He endured because he kept a twin perspective on his life in the camp:

  • he faced the brutal reality of where he was and what he was going through; and
  • he kept his focus on a future beyond the camp.

Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, interviewed Admiral Stockdale about his coping strategy whilst in prison. At one point Collins asked the Admiral which prisoners didn’t make it:

Oh, that’s easy, the optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, We’re going to be out by Christmas. And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, We’re going to be out by Easter. And Easter would come, and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart. This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Stockdale was vehement in his denial of blind optimism. Collins stresses the common denominator of all companies making the break to greatness as being able and willing to face the brutal reality.

I believe this holds true for us as individuals, families and communities as well.

This seems to be important in developing a strong hope. It is not a hope that flies in the face of the evidence. But is does hope, and remains dogged. I’m wondering if antifragile hope builds on doggedness, but that what Stockdale has explained is not the complete picture?

Resilience is Brittle

I believe Taleb offers us something beyond the binary thinking of fragility and resilience.

I did have an email series called Resilient Hope, in fact, but Taleb has given me pause to review this work again.

Is there a kind of hope that gains under stress?

I believe there is. Hinton and Stockdale model this for us, as do others.

We find echoes of it in myths and legends, those stories we are drawn towards. For example, in Die Hard, John McClain grew in stature during the story. Whilst the police chief and the FBI were at best resilient, and McLain’s vest was fragile, our hero was revealed as antifragile. In Lord of the Rings, Gandalf seems reduced to nothing in grappling with the Balrog, but emerged later even more powerful than ever. And, of course, there are the confrontations of Christ with the religious legalists, his deceptive capture, rigged trial, execution and resurrection. The hero who appears defeated in battle, rises from the ground, having learned from the stress how to endure in the fight in a different way, and goes on to become even more powerful.

And why do these stories inspire? Do they connect with some profound truth about ourselves and a better way to live through adversity?

In my earlier post, Building Something Bigger than Us, I referenced those world-changers who looked beyond even their own lifetimes towards something they started that leaves future generations with a powerful legacy.

My point is this:

Antifragile hope is functional now.

Rather than thinking like survivalists in some sort of zombie apocalypse fantasy, we can think beyond mere survival and build. Generative, antifragile hope leads us to dream bigger, connect with a purpose higher than ourselves, a transcendent purpose. Survivalism is the chronic stressful worldview of every man and woman for themselves; it is a fragile hope. Antifragile hope does not abandon our history or our future but builds. Taleb calls such people the antifragilistas. Their eyes are fixed above or beyond their immediate circumstances

Antifragile hope is functional NOW.

Frankl and his conclusions

He who knows the why for his existence can bear almost any how.

Viktor Frankl, Man’s Searcn for Meaning.

Leaders deal in the currency of meaning. They ask and attempt to offer answers to the Why question. To deny people a clear reason for the change they are going through is an abdication of leadership. How much more true is this when it comes to the matter of self-leadership?

Viktor Frankl, in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, vividly demonstrates from his own experiences in a concentration camp during World War Two, how emotionally healthy it can be to connect with a greater purpose. People can deal with almost anything if they have a sufficiently good reason for doing so.

Thinking and acting beyond our lives is humanity at its best.

Frankl survived the horrors of the camp, in part because his hope was fixed on a hope beyond the camp, beyond his immediate circumstances. It was transcendant.

Focus on Legacy

Thinking and acting beyond our lives is humanity at its best.

During the dark days of early 1944, the British Parliament debated building a future UK, homes for heroes and its health service. This infuriated Hitler, who had hoped (resilient?) that the British would be too absorbed in their current battle to dream beyond. He was wrong.

Apart from incarceration and enduring the extremes of oppression by other human beings, what do Hinton, Stockdale and Frankl have in common? And what do they show us in our own restrictions right now?

I’d love your thoughts on this.

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Starting Something Bigger than Us

Walter & His Dreams

Young Walter was born into this world as part of the elite. He was drilled in his family lineage and was taught how to steward the family fortune. He would go into another career, though, but his world view and life skills would travel with him.

Walter found favour with the king, and after paying the king a small fortune, he became Lord Chancellor. He was Chancellor for nine years before making another career change. He became a bishop.

Not unusual in those times, bishops were often political appointments from the aristocracy. He was appointed Bishop of Worcester for a couple of years, before taking the second-most-senior ecclesiastical title at that time, Archbishop of York. Walter had an even larger dream, though, larger than his own career. In 1220, work began. He began to build, in the Gothic style of the day, a cathedral. It would be such an edifice that he wouldn’t see it completed.

Sure enough, thirty years later, Walter died…

… and four centuries later York Minster was completed!

Forgive me, if you are a historian and indulge me in my historical fiction of Walter de Gray’s early years. But let me ask you this question …

What kind of person would embark on this kind of enterprise?

And what kind of people would continue with the dream until it was realised, so many generations later?

I’m fascinated by the minds behinds historic monuments, edifices that sometimes take generations to complete.

There is even an example happening right now. The beautiful Sagrada Familia in Barcelona will not be complete until 2026 or later, and its original architect, Gaudi, died in 1926 when it was only a quarter completed!

Why would Gaudi and his contemporaries commit to such a project?

By C messier – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

And there are other examples. The Great Wall of China, the pyramids, Petra, and most of the ancient wonders of the world.

The poor, the middle class & the wealthy

I have been studying the work of Dr Ruby K Payne, a remarkable Texan educationalist, who began to unravel the mystery of why poor kids do so badly in school systems designed from in a Middle-Class mindset. In her, A Framework for Understanding Poverty, she sets out the differences in three mindsets:

  • Poverty Mindset
  • Middle Class Mindset
  • The Wealthy Mindset

The attitude to money and financial horizons of each mindset is a particularly interesting one to me. This is part of a table Ruby Payne shares in her book, abridged by me:

PoorMiddle ClassWealthy
Spending & PaydaySaving & End of LifeInvesting and Generational Legacy

The Poor

The Poverty Mindset sees money as something to be spent for almost immediate gratification or pain-relief, so the horizon tends to be when the next payday comes. The horizon of focus is now.

Moreover, living in a community of need, having money sometimes means it must be given to those in the community who have greater immediate needs. The needs of friends and family, who are vital relationships among the poor, regularly work against putting money away for later.

The Middle Class

The Middle-Class Mindset in a different way is much more selfish, although it has the appearance of prudence. Money is saved, is put by for retirement into a pension pot or a 401K. The focus is on providing for ourselves until we die. Many of the decisions made from this mindset are also made from an awareness of scarcity.

The Wealthy

The Wealthy Mindset, or as I prefer to call it, the Noble Mind, invests for others. (Note: I have avoided the term Wealth Mindset because of its unhelpful associations with being or becoming financially rich. Whereas, the Noble Mind alludes to an ancient way of thinking from inheritance and the responsibility to leave a legacy.)

The Noble Mind thinks generationally, both from an inheritance from past generations and for future generations. It has a sense of noblesse oblige from its inheritance and sees itself having a purpose greater than itself.

So, it is a Noble Mind that decides to build a cathedral. It is a Noble Mind that continues to build even after the original entrepreneur or architect is no longer with us. Walter de Gray had a Noble Mind. Gaudi may have had a Noble Mind. Those who continued after them had, to some degree, a Noble Mind.

How do these mindsets play out in the present pandemic?

The pandemic and countermeasures such as lockdown, as well as the emotional reactions we all have to this threat, tempt us to become emotional survivalists: people who think only of ourselves and the horizon of when this will be all over.

Fear tends to drive us towards a Poverty Mindset.

This is situational, short-term, selfish thinking. It is either a poverty or a middle-class mindset. Fear tends to drive us towards a Poverty Mindset. Many of the us-and-them narratives feed a Middle Class world view, and these stories we plug into keep us in scarcity thinking.

The Opportunity

And yet.. in the neighbourhood where I live, I have seen the rise of a kind of care and generosity that I hadn’t experienced before. Neighbours have offered to go shopping for us, plus a multitude of other kindnesses.

I find it exciting that, for some of us, this time is an opportunity to do this; to remember where we have come from, to recognise what we have, and rethink our futures, our horizons and our dreams for this world.

Climate Change

When it comes to the big issues of global sustainability, for example, we do not need initiatives driven by scarcity thinking:
“Time is running out!” “It may already be too late!”
Rather we need a realistic hope, a Stockdale hope. We need to train our young people to innovate with a Noble Mind, drawing upon what we leave them, rather than focusing on what we lack or have consumed.


In Simon Sinek’s The Infinite Game, he argues that organisations rallying to a Just Cause, to a purpose that is greater than any of us, are likely to prevail far longer than competitive, me too responses so common in business and politics.

When it comes to building businesses, we need leaders who are aware of their need to create missions bigger than themselves, their products, or their services; longer, even, than their lifetimes that make a real difference for future generations.


When it comes to crafting government policy, we need leaders who will lift our eyes to a better future, not driven by the mass media optics of the moment or the short-termism of considering the next electoral cycle. And as we think with a Noble Mind, we might recognise and find such leaders and perhaps vote for them.

What is your just cause? What’s your dream? Is it bigger than you and your lifetime? If it is, bless you.

Positive Outliers Resilient Hope

The Sun Does Shine

When the video of George Floyd’s death went viral, sparking protests, marches and the BLM movement across the West, my dear friend, Jamie Lee, recommended a book by Anthony Ray Hinton, called The Sun Does Shine. It tells the story of a young man in Alabama who was wrongfully arrested and convicted of a series of murders, and who then spent the next 28 years on death row in a small cell until the trial was fundamentally questioned and he was released.

I’m grateful to Jamie for recommending this book because in reading it, the book moved me from dwelling on the brutality in that Floyd atrocity, or react to the subsequent violence, where we all seemed to have to take one side or another.

Hinton’s example in the teeth of overwhelming injustice was astonishing and strangely wonderful. Clearly and powerfully written, it tells the story, not merely of survival but of the transcendence of one human over institutional and tribal injustice. Now, I too recommend that book to my family and friends.

Writing in Prison

As I read it, I couldn’t but recall other great literature like this, written in the most extreme contexts of human deprivation and torture. I think of Viktor Frankl’s experiences in Auschwitz.

Paul of Tarsus’s soaring letter of encouragement to his friends in Phillipi writing from a hole in the ground in the deranged emperor Nero’s prison comes to mind. Or Nelson Mandela’s account of his decades-long incarceration on Robben Island is up there in this genre. What about John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress written in Bedford prison? Or Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s account of The Gulag Archipelago? Then there is Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place, of how her family in wartime Rotterdam were shopped for protecting Jews and were themselves sent to concentration camps. And Richard Wurmbrand’s Sermons from Solitary Confinement, which he tapped out in morse code while spending two of his 14 years in solitary during Romanian communism.

On and on it goes, but in these places where there was apparently no freedom, comes powerfully transcendent insights into living in true inner freedom.

These heroic stories are timely and important for us all when we think we have it hard; when we think we are unreasonably constrained, captive even during Covid-19 restrictions. We learn to appreciate what we have within us.

Mostly, these works call us to hope in spite of our circumstances. These stories call us from the immaturity of young children complaining that they are hungry or can’t go out to play, to become mature and fulfilled, wherever we are, whatever we can or can’t do.

Resilient Hope Self-Awareness

I Missed Something

Two weeks ago, I posted a piece on Thanksgiving as a Lifestyle. I went on to list some of the benefits of having a daily routine of keeping something like a Gratitude List.

But, I missed something. 

I was reminded of this when I read and an article earlier this week on Kris Vallotton’s blog about a tough Christmas in his home.  What Kris did the following year was tremendous

So, I would add this benefit to my list:

Gratitude is an antidote to the corrosive tendency to feel entitled to something that is really a gift.

For those of us who are comfortable, and in the West that is most of us, a sense of entitlement can creep up on us. Entitlement causes us to envy and to compare ourselves with others. We have all done it.

Nevertheless, it is both stupid and destructive. When I observe and serve those less fortunate, I return my thoughts to that which I otherwise take for granted and instead give thanks, then I wake up and become reasonable again. I see things from a more mature perspective and realise that I am blessed.

A feature of this kind of deep benefit of giving thanks is that it is not always immediately obvious to us. It sometimes takes years, if ever, to come to our awareness.

So may I wish you a fabulous holiday season, however you celebrate it, and may you realise how truly blessed you are this Christmas!

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Thanksgiving as a Lifestyle

Preface: As you read this, you may think this article is posted a week late. Please read on.

Outside of the USA, most countries do not celebrate Thanksgiving as a holiday. And here in the UK, there is a particular suspicion over American holidays. (For example, we Brits have mixed feelings at best about the Independence Day holiday.) However, for the last two years, some friends of ours have invited my wife and me, along with other friends and families, to their Thanksgiving meal. This is unusual because our friends are also British.

Why is this? Well, they say,

“Thanksgiving is like having Christmas, but with people you like.” 

So, we have a great time enjoying each other’s company, playing games, overindulging in delicious food. Then there is that moment where we go around the table, young and old, each saying what we are grateful for this year; it’s a special moment.

Now, I’m sure you have received emails from American suppliers, as I have, who have written messages at this time as to why they are thankful for you, their customer.

However, I have come to value thanksgiving as a lifestyle. I give thanks all the time. I realise it is just good mental health.

A key practice for me is my Gratitude List, that I add to every day during my daily work planning. I write it on the opposite page to my Daily Heads-Up. You can find out more about the Gratitude List in my daily routine in

Over time, I have become aware that this daily practice has contributed to some important, benefits. Here are a few of them:

  • It balances my natural tendency to look for the negative. This is called the negativity bias and is an important survival mechanism, where I scan my environment for threats. We all have this bias. This may be natural, but if left unchecked, it can colour our view of life. When we allow ourselves to live in chronic negativity then this can lead to depression, or worse. The emotional mood music of our lives can become dysfunctional, anxious and over-cautious. Rampant negativity can make any otherwise healthy hope feel downright ridiculous.
  • Since keeping a daily gratitude list, I notice more positive experiences, that I might not have given due thought to, even less have taken a moment to celebrate.
  • I dwell on these positive experiences more deliberately now. As I do, I find something shifts in me. My heart becomes more positive and generous. I am more hopeful, less likely to be overwhelmed by any negativity that I may encounter.
  • As I hold myself to this daily practice, it makes me hunt for the positive. Sure, there are some days, I cannot think of three positive experiences from the day before, but then I lift my thoughts to the more long-term factors that I enjoy, such as a marriage to a truly wonderful woman, as well as friends and family that I really do not deserve.
  • I find myself in interesting conversations with God, to whom I give thanks for it all.
  • Bréne Brown describes a phenomenon she discovered in her research interviews that she calls foreboding joy. I recognise this psychodynamic in me when I had felt some moment of joy. And then, almost immediately, the thought comes, ‘but this won’t last; I will have to pay for it.’ As I hold myself accountable for giving thanks daily by writing it down, I can now recognise this and I laugh at this lie. It’s weakening. It still comes back occasionally, but it is losing the battle to occupy space in my thinking.
  • Overall, I realise that my emotional worldview has shifted from the negative to the positive. My lens has changed, from ‘What should I be worried about?’ to ‘What are blessings am I not noticing?’ This could be described as a personal paradigm shift or a change in my confirmation bias.

I wholeheartedly recommend making thanksgiving a lifestyle. It changes everything.

Do you agree? Do you do something similar? Let me know.

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash

Leaning to Action Positive Outliers Resilient Hope

The Dream Manager

What are your dreams? 

Have you written them down? If not, why not? 

Perhaps, because we are taught not to value dreaming. We are told that dreaming is wasting time. Dreams are fantasy and will never happen. Dreams only set us up for disappointment.

We are all wired to dream. All children dream when they are young – unless or until the world knocks it out of them. Our dreams need to be taken seriously. Once we do, these dreams can become what truly motivates us.

More than that, realising our dreams begin to colour our lives in ways that are invigorating and energising.

Recently, I enjoyed reading Matthew Kelly’s The Dream Manager. Most of the book is written as a business fable about a caretaking business that is haemorrhaging money through sick leave and high staff turnover among its workforce. The workers in this firm are typically from a fairly poor background. The story illustrates well how connecting the employees to their dreams, helping them work towards them and holding them accountable through an internal company dream coaching function helps galvanise them into hope.

There it is again, that word hope. Dreams are mentally healthy and interrupt our natural negativity bias in favour of moving towards a more positive future. Working towards one’s dreams shifts us from a victim mindset towards realising that we have a choice and are more powerful than we realise.

Here is one of my favourite quotes from Bono, lead singer of U2, talking a few years ago in an interview about his One Campaign against poverty in Africa:

The future is more malleable than we think, and we must wrestle it from the fools.


Most of us are foolish with our future, saying things like, I have too… or I must…, or this won’t work, it never does. This is the language of the crowd-followers, of foolish victims. Sometimes we are disappointed, so we would rather not dream than be disappointed.

Instead, we wake up and realise that we have choices.

Most of us know the story of the prodigal son as told by Jesus. There’s a moment in the story when the fool wises up:

But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! I will arise, and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father.

Luke’s Gospel, Chapter 15

He came to himself. 

When did you last come to yourself? When did you last wise up and stopped being a victim and started dreaming again, and taking steps towards achieving that dream?

As we treat our dreams seriously and take steps towards making them happen, we are changed.

What are your dreams? Allow me to be your dream manager for a moment. Leave a comment below.

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Resilient Hope

An Investment in Hope

I was honoured to be invited on Saturday to the launch of the British Antarctic Survey’s Sir David Attenborough. Although for me this meant a 14-hour return drive, it was worth it. The launch was a historic milestone and a significant move towards a safer world. Quite apart from that, the launch itself was quite spectacular.

I’d been loosely associated with this and several other major British Antarctic Survey (BAS) programmes, facilitating annual two-day workshops with the UK’s National Environment Research Council and BAS over the last four years. What has emerged for me is a growing admiration for the people involved and their mission. Working in the Antarctic is as near as you can get to the extremes of space travel without leaving the planet.

My SDA Launch Selfie
I just had to take a selfie…

As the real Sir David said in his speech, science has shown us how interconnected we are with polar regions. What happens there affects our lives here and vice versa. It was British scientists who first monitored the thinning of the ozone layer in the Antarctic as long ago as 1944.

This new £200 million state-of-the-art vessel will be able to support cutting-edge science over the next 50 years. It will inform governments with accurate longitudinal studies about trends in global environmental systems.

Where is the hope? Well, we manage what we measure. There is hope for this planet. We can see how what we do in Birkenhead or Boston, Buenos Aires or Beijing effects glaciers and ice flows, marine life and oceanic pollution. And then we can act on that information.

Also, as the Bishop of Birkenhead said at the launch, this will inspire a generation of children to engage with science and engineering.

More than that, the culture I see developing with my client organisations gives me hope for leadership in these fields.

£200 million seems a lot as a UK taxpayer. However, it is an investment in hope, which is priceless.

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The Dual Mindset of an Entrepreneur

At the weekend I came across this gem of a video posted over six years ago. Marten Mikos, the then-CEO of MySQL who sold the company to SUN Microsystems for $1 billion, gives a candid short interview during the Innovate! conference in Zaragoza, Spain, about his key learnings as an entrepreneur. It’s a nine-minute masterclass:

It caught my attention because I was recently writing about the Stockdale Paradox and its relevance to Resilient Hope. If you want to read it, sign up here.

Marten Mikos covers a number of subjects dear to my heart in this short video:

  • how entrepreneurs have to have unwavering faith as well as to face the brutal reality day-to-day
  • the tricky art of knowing when to stop something and when to keep going
  • the biggest challenge in growing an organisation is people, particularly oneself
  • the importance of being open to learning new things as well as to abandoning old ways
  • making tough decisions, and
  • distributed operations.
I think offices are so last century.
Marten Mikos

I’ve written recently about visual thinking, in particular referring to the work of Mike Rohde and sketchnotes. Here’s my own sketchnote from this video. It’s not perfect nor terribly arty, so I hope it’s an encouragement to you if you think you can’t draw.

Sketchnote of Marten Mika video

Resilient Hope

Do you have a leaning to be negative?

At the BCS Business Change SIG last night in London, we had a great conversation. I expected we would, but I wasn’t sure what turn it would take. But isn’t that the way of all great conversations?

We were exploring the concept of Resilient Hope. In the discussion following my presentation, one person mentioned he’d be reading Daniel Kahneman’s seminal work, Thinking Fast, Think Slow, and he referenced what Kahneman had identified as the Loss Aversion Bias, the tendency we all have for protecting our decisions and investments even if they might be wrong and we are losing, by investing, even more, to shore them up. We don’t like losing. This works itself out in public, for example, by major projects and programmes, where clearly the business case is failing or has gone, but such is the investment that has gone into it, we pour good money after bad because we don’t want to face the fact that we might have backed the wrong horse.

Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear.

Dean Ornish

The conversation led on to talk about the climate of negativity in many of our work cultures and why that is.

I’m reminded of a great book by Dr Brené Brown, called Daring Greatly. Dr Brown is known for her research on shame, vulnerability and scarcity, but what emerges from her work, her interviews with parents and others is something transcendently positive. She is able to identify health by connecting with joy through gratitude. However, she has remarked that we find joy “terrifying.” She has identified a mental narrative that most of us recognise called foreboding joy. Foreboding joy is where we catch ourselves in joy, and immediately fear that we will pay for it, or fear that something will come along to snatch it away.

However, she has remarked that we find joy “terrifying.” She has identified a mental narrative that most of us recognise called foreboding joy. Foreboding joy` is where we catch ourselves in joy, and immediately fear that we will pay for it, or fear that something will come along to snatch it away.

This is perfectly irrational of course. People do prevail in joy. Look at this Oprah Winfrey interview with Brené Brown:

In my presentation, I quoted from Dr Dean Ornish, the leader of a breakthrough programme in leading behavioural change for chronically ill patients from lifestyle-induced illness. He said, “Joy is a more powerful motivator than fear.” Indeed it was, as people soon began to see and feel health benefits from a radical and repeated regime. Rather than be motivated by “do this or you will die” sort of counsel, they connected with joy and through that resilient hope emerged.

Maybe we need to take more care of joy in our lives and not snuff it out too quickly.

What do you think? Leave your thoughts below.

Leaning to Action Resilient Hope

Has your change got a hope?

Have you ever found yourself influencing people to change and found that there was more than a lack of motivation, there was a lack of belief in the proposed change?

Next week I’m speaking at the BCS Business Change SIG in London to this title. I’ve discovered a real power in hope when it is applied to business change.

However, this kind of hope does not mean this:

  1. Wishful thinking in a pessimistic frame of mind. We often use the word hope in this way. “I hope so, but I fear otherwise.” This has little expectancy about it. This has nothing back it.
  2. Blind Optimism. I will be referencing the Stockdale Paradox in my presentation, that Jim Collins explores in his book, Good to Great. Sometimes unrealistic optimism ca be actively destructive.

No, what I will explore is something rarely mentioned in change management literature that I call resilient hope.

Have you ever seen hope rise in a change you have been part of? How did that happen? Let me know.