Hope is a Strategic Advantage
Guest Blog Written By Andrew Bennett
Andrew Bennett is a long-time friend and colleague of David’s, and we are thrilled to share this essay that was originally published on LinkedIn.
There’s a famous saying in business: “Hope is not a business strategy,” to which I would like to say, as politely as possible, “BS!”
𝘞𝘪𝘴𝘩𝘧𝘶𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 is not a business strategy, but show me a business that doesn’t have hope, and I’ll show you a depressing place to work and, most likely, mediocre performance as a business.
Forty-five years ago, my grandpa took his own life. In the years since then, I’ve searched to understand that act and worked hard to manage my depression. I believe that lack of hope could be the worst state of mind possible.
Lack of hope saps your energy because there’s an underlying feeling of “what’s the point?” Lack of hope leaves you focused on what’s wrong in your world. Hopelessness makes you feel helpless and puts you in the Victim role. Hopelessness can generate cynicism and put you into Persecutor mode. Seeing hopelessness in others can make you want to Rescue them.
Of course, Victim, Persecutor, and Rescuer are the roles that make up the Dreaded Drama Triangle (DDT), and hopelessness fuels the toxic interplay between them.
Thank goodness there is an alternative way of being and relating in and through TED* (*The Empowerment Dynamic)®! I first learned about TED* when I met David in 2010. I was so inspired by the approach that I included it in a cultural revitalization project at a university, which made a tremendous difference. The TED* roles of Creator, Challenger, and Coach are not only the antidote to the toxicity of the DDT, but they are also ways of being that are infused with hope.
The presence of hope pulls people forward. It gives them energy. It gives them access to creative thinking about how to get to a better future. It helps them feel meaning in their work because they’re creating something that matters.
Hope is not a Pollyanna naïveté that everything’s peachy-keen, ignoring the challenges that are part of life. Hope is a belief that there is a positive, even joyful, future and that we can get there.
If you’re a leader, help people see the positive future you’re creating together. Help them see the good that your organization does and how you make the world a better place. Put the spotlight on the strengths people possess that make that future possible.
The best leaders I have known are like farmers, constantly planting seeds, cultivating hope, and painting vivid pictures of an inspiring future where your work matters—constantly helping people connect their day-to-day work with that positive future. Nurturing hope like this is the act of a Creator.
My mentor, Ross Perot, was that kind of leader. He used to call three random employees every morning to talk to them about what they were working on, and he’d help them connect to how that improved our customers’ lives. He didn’t call to grill people; it was a conversation. Ross was a billionaire leading a company of tens of thousands, but he started his day with one-on-one conversations with front-line employees. He knew that hope was the most important thing he could offer people.
Follow his example and step into your role as a Creator. Engage people in conversations about what they’re working on and how that’s contributing to the impact your organization wants to have on the world—how your team makes life better for your customers, the community, and the families of employees. Try starting team meetings by having people share those kinds of stories.
If you’re a leader—and everyone is a leader in many ways—nurture hope. You’ll create a workplace full of energy, you’ll enrich people’s lives, and your business will thrive. Hope is a strategic advantage.
Ultimately, every act of creation is an act of hope.
Andrew Bennett is the creator of The Restorative Mindset™ – and a master magician. To learn more, visit: https://andrewbennett.com/.