UPCOMING PUBLIC PROGRAM
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That’s right, today I’m BBQin’ some motivational sacred cow!
Now I know this is going to offend some of you – this will challenge some long held beliefs, make the “hope police” angry and I imagine a good portion of you might experience some minor sphincter tightening – but I’m going to say it anyway:
“Hope is a bad idea!”
Now, before we go any further, I want to make sure that you understand the distinction I make between hope and optimism.
Optimism, is in fact, generally a good thing… sometimes even a very good thing. On the whole, optimism tends to make us more creative, resilient, healthy and happy.
The difference between the two, however, is quite marked.
Optimism is always, in some way, linked to the context and environment you find yourself in. Optimism is usually fuelled by an apparent possibility, a potential opportunity or involves leveraged relationships, historic precedent, metaphorical reference points, or indeed, skills and capabilities we know to be within our reach.
Hope, on the other hand, is usually only grasped for, rather ironically, when things are hopeless.
“OK, that makes sense, but why is hope such a bad thing?” you may be asking yourself. Excellent question.
Hope is a crushingly awful idea because its primary purpose is to act as an anesthetic against the psychological discomfort of circumstance. In other words, it disconnects us from reality and either delays, or completely impairs, our ability to take action in order that we might “feel” better (as opposed to actually “being” better off).
Hope keeps us in relationships that are tragically broken, “He/She will change.”
Hope makes us stay in investment positions longer than we should, “It’s gonna turn around, I just know it will.”
Hope has us executing business strategies we haven’t adequately prepared for and making commercial, personal and social decisions that may be damaging to ourselves and to others. “I hope this works!!!”
All of us, when prompted, can recall a list of experiences and personal stories, where we clung to hope and suffered, or caused other’s suffering, as a result.
What this boils down to is this: hope supports our adoption of risky positions and abets precarious situations, it encourages procrastination to the point of paralysis, it justifies delusions about our capabilities and clouds the real possibilities that surround us. All of this ultimately reveals hope as a strategy of failure.
If you can act and are willing to act, then don’t waste time hoping… act. If action is not possible, then a strategy that holds a greater chance of success is exit, not hope.
Hope, as defined above, is unnecessary to maintaining an optimistic view of the world, of our potential, of business opportunities and yes, even of our dreams. Rather, it is highly likely that:
1. Hope undermines optimism, which exists within context and environment
2. Hope increases our risk by removing a reasonable sense of caution
3. Hope delays, and in some cases impairs, action
4. Hope disconnects us from reality and blinds us to actual possibilities
5. Hope destabilizes a successful strategy, instead encouraging a position of no strategy at all
OK, that’s why we need to abandon hope… So why might we want to keep hope? How might it be used to our benefit?
1. Hope is a powerful tool of influence
I say tool of influence, but in truth, hope has usually tended to err towards the manipulation end of the influence spectrum.
It has been the go to methodology of quacks and alternative healers selling miracle diet pills and “cures” for terminal maladies, of corrupt politicians looking to grab a few votes, of religious gurus and teachers drumming up followers and tithes, of lobbyists and political activists looking to leverage public prejudices and biases and marketers who revel in unsubstantiated claims and false promises.
Now, hope need not always be used as a manipulative tool of influence, but that has certainly been its pedigree. The reason for this is that hope acts very much like a drug. It is immediately tempting, highly addictive and particularly appealing to the vulnerable and desperate – so use with caution.
My suggestion? Abandon hope. Instead, feed your optimism by taking what action is available to you and reclaim your power!
Of course, it’s not my job to dictate your moral standards, merely to inform them…
… but I “hope” you’ll make the right decision.
CUE: Dr Evil-esque laugh.
For some reason, otherwise interesting and personable people tend to put on their work clothes and check their humanity and individuality at the door.
To be fair, it’s not entirely your fault. The corporate world has spent decades trying to beat the humanity out of us and transform human beings into homogenous, replaceable cogs. And let’s be honest, on the back of last century’s industrial revolution, it was a good plan. Work was mostly routine, repetitive and ritualized.
However, it’s 2017 and the world of work has shifted. Repetitive work has either been off-shored, out-sourced or handed over to robots with AI that are more efficient, more obedient and less likely to unionize.
This, as it turns out, is actually a good thing. It means that what makes you human, unique and interesting (and interested) is your new competitive advantage.
So how do you take advantage of this? How do you unlock what is unique to you and transform it into a commercial advantage? How do you build a reputation as an influencer? An innovator in your category? And command the respect of your peers and the new business and fees you desire?
If you want to stand out (and you really do) you need to know your 4 Stands.
1. What do you stand for?
What is the contribution you wish to make in your world? What are you creating? Changing? Improving? Reinventing? What is it that you do that makes people’s lives that little bit better for intersecting with your work?
2. What do you stand against?
Whose apple cart are you upsetting? What status-quo are you challenging? What is the righteous fight you are starting and on whose behalf are you fighting for?
3. Who do you stand with?
Who is on your team? Who do you collaborate with? Where are the gaps in your expertise and experience and who will advocate for you and make these connections?
4. How do you stand up?
What is your tone of voice? What language do you use? What intellectual property have you authored and which media platforms are you using to seed your revolution?
This is an extraordinary time to be alive. The opportunities we have and the work we do is more interesting than at any time in our history.
So stop being so boring and take advantage of it!
How do we know something is, in fact, a fact, or just an opinion we’ve held so long we’re unprepared to give it up?
Just as importantly, are those we look to engage just as attached to their accumulated “facts”.
One of the most interesting books I’ve read in the past decade, is Eli Pariser’s The Filter Bubble. Pariser’s assertion is that the internet learns who we are, assesses how our biases and prejudices shape our opinions, and then feeds us further information we’re inclined to agree with.
That’s a painfully brief summation but it’s a good reminder that not only is the information we access online notoriously unreliable, it is also very likely to be framed to entrench already long-held views.
But this phenomenon is not unique to the digital age. In fact, human societies and communities have been reinforcing opinions as facts for millennia.
A lot of this is generated by fear, a powerful emotion that makes those seeking comfort, compliant and easily lead. Control the information, you control the opinions and in doing so, gain control over people.
So why does this matter?
It matters because almost every important issue we face in business, in politics and in life ends up in a binary argument, not based on facts, but drawing on often flawed opinions and hypotheses.
• Gun control or regulation
• Economic Theory (despite the fact that many economists are less reliable than a fun pier fortune teller)
• Freedom, or the lack thereof, of belief (especially if those beliefs don’t reflect the majority view)
• Gender and sexual equality
• Articles of law and civil behavior
• Taxation and government spending
Any of these subjects is likely to lead to heated words and even physical violence at a family BBQ. Hardly surprising given the importance some of these issues hold in our daily life. That’s what makes a capacity to think outside our own personal view points so important. Not just so we can make better decisions, but so that we might also be more influential, more engaging and more trustworthy.
Anaïs Nin is famously quoted as saying, “We don’t see the world as it is, we see the world as we are.”
The truth is, we only ever see the world with as much accuracy, as the number of points of view we have access to, will allow.
T: +61 (0)2 9651 5384
P: PO Box 226
Broadway NSW 2007
Subscribe to Gregorian Rants™
T: +61 (0)2 9651 5384
P: PO Box 226
Broadway NSW 2007
Subscribe to Gregorian Rants™
© 2017 The Impossible Institute