How to Cultivate Realistic Hope

How to Cultivate Realistic Hope

In times of uncertainty, we often turn to the news media, leaders, and experts for answers. Conflicting reports weaken our trust, creating more uncertainty. As more bad news continues to stream in, we turn away. To distract ourselves from intrusive ruminations, nagging guilt, loss, and trauma, we seek relief. Many of us use distraction techniques: we focus our attention for two minutes on a pleasant memory, image, or even a focus on our breath. However, some of our distraction behaviors do more harm than good. Often impulsive (and sometimes compulsive) we develop binging behaviors to numb us from our thoughts and feelings. Such behaviors include activities like binge-watching series, compulsive-eating/drinking, or worse. These behaviors further separate us from others, and any real sense of hope. Instead, we need to ease our emotional pain and prevent the problem from becoming worse. We need to cultivate realistic hope. Realistic Hope Realistic hope is not based on the perspective that everything was, is, or will be fine. To the contrary, hope is about a breadth of perspective with real, specific possibilities that call us to action.   In Hope in the Dark: Untold Histories, Wild Possibilities (Haymarket Books, 2020), Rebecca Solnit writes: “Hope is not a sunny, everything-is-getting-better narrative, though it may be a counter to the everything-is-getting-worse narrative. You could call it an account of complexities and uncertainties, with openings.” Unrealistic Optimism Unrealistic optimism, or false hope, is not based on critical thinking. To be sure, there are benefits of being optimistic, but optimism without any real basis or plan to support it is a hollow promise; it is not the...
Great Leadership in Times of Crisis

Great Leadership in Times of Crisis

The men and women in charge of our organizations are now faced with unchartered challenges: leading their organization through a global pandemic. In this time of crisis, most leaders are doing their best to step up and inspire people to do their best. And they’re doing a great job. One of the challenges is the evolving new normal. Rapidly changing guidelines, mandates, and infrastructure require continual monitoring and adjustments. Leaders are in a constant state of discovery, decision making, designing, and implementation. This requires resilience, collaboration, and great communication. Those who are able to adapt quickly and wisely are best positioned to lead their organization, and in many cases, their entire nation, in novel ways. Great leadership in a time of crisis will see us through to the other side. Business continuity management is more important than ever. Based on the conversations I’ve had with leaders, developing, refining, and implementing contingency plans is well underway. With careful attention to employee safety and preparedness, leaders can minimize risk, and in some cases, position themselves for post-crisis growth. Below are a few leadership best practices. Are you taking these steps?   Legal Obligations First, and foremost, focus on employee safety. Review policies, and then identify actual practices. (What happens in the field may not be the actual procedures management recommends.) Ensure you have adequate communicable-illness plans and practices in place. Credible Authorities and Resources Depending on the size and reach of your organization, these may need to be local, regional, national, and global, and could include CDC, WHO, EUCDPC, Singapore and UK. Contingency Plans If you haven’t mapped out or developed...