Hope is NOT a strategy

Hope may spring eternal, but it is NOT a strategy.

I have felt a bit hopeless lately as I have grappled with less income than I need and certainly less than I want.  This financial downturn has prevented me from giving my family what we need and it feels unpleasant, even scary at times.  Does it ever feel that way to you, too?

Working on the front lines of finance over the past five years or so during this mini-Depression, Great Recession, whatever, has made a lot of things feel harder than I ever remember them, and I know I am not alone.  Maybe I am just getting older, or crankier (both true but perhaps not relevant here), but I don’t think that’s it.  Things are harder and many seem to feel that the American dream is starting to fade.  Well, I am no expert on that but I will say I have started to become aware of something an old Wall Street boss said to me, and probably to many others, in the midst of the Tech Bubble bursting in the early 2000s.   While I, an inexperienced stock broker, painfully fumbled for my metaphorical fire extinguisher as wealth all around me went up in flames, he said to me, “Hope is not a strategy.”

That warning has stuck with me for over 10 years now and I think I am just starting to realize what he meant.  You can have hope, after all it does spring eternal!, and maybe you having hope and things getting better for you will magically coincide but you cannot count on hope alone getting you what you want, or even need.

Working on a goal without hope would be pure drudgery but what happens if you have hope–you want something really bad–and honestly feel like you deserve it and it doesn’t work out?  Then what?  Did having hope not work?  Did you not hope badly enough? 

I say this:  Fear is, in many cases, a more powerful motivator than hope could ever, umm, hope to be.  Being afraid of not getting what you need/want will almost always get you working for that thing more than hoping for it will.

Hope does not replace work.  It can’t.  Otherwise everyone with hope would get what they want and life would be too easy.  (Remember hope springs eternal, which means it’s always there.  It’s almost always easy to hope.  Sometimes, too easy.  In fact, hope is easier than work, isn’t it? Maybe that’s we are so naturally drawn to it as people.)

1000% Yes! Have hope!  But I am realizing that the world (business world, athletic world, relationship world, etc.) doesn’t care or often even know if I have hope.  What the world can see, and, therefore, is more likely to reward, is results! 

So, the universal law must be: work = results = rewards. 

You cannot hope your way to results.  You can’t.  If hope of a brighter tomorrow gets you out of bed today and off to work then use it for all you can.  If you hope that your work will yield results then by all means, hope!  But sitting around “hoping” your life will get better without the willingness to do the hard thing and work will really only ever yield disappointment or worse: “fake success.”  I define fake success as the situation when luck or perfect timing–beyond your control–makes you look and feel smarter or better than you are really are.

When that happens those people for whom hope seemingly paid off will be the first ones to hope for solutions at the next inevitable crisis, rather than getting to work quickly to resolve the crisis and get back on track to a happy life solidly built on the principle that work = results = rewards.  THAT is the winning strategy.

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