The Ability to be Hopeful

One of my favourite opening questions to build connections in meetings (other than, “Share the most boring thing about yourself,” which is actually hilarious), is “Put one adjective in the Chat that describes how you are really doing today.” Sometimes, I’ll ask it twice, with the second round adding the cloak of anonymity, which tends to increase candour. I use it several times per week.

In March and April of this year, I noticed three things about the resulting lists of adjectives:

    1. They were somewhat varied, showing that pandemic life is affecting people differently
    2. The words were predominantly negative.
    3. When anonymous, people described their state even more negatively than when their names were visible to others.

Last week, in a group of 56 people mostly based in Canada, I asked the same question. Instead of seeing words like “exhausted” and “depleted,” I saw “hopeful” and “optimistic” filling the Chat.

Can we just sit with that for a moment? The tide is turning.

Photo by Shuxuan Cao from Pexels

In my work on increasing adaptability with teams, I use the new AQai Adaptability Quotient assessment tool. One of the 15 predictors of adaptability within that assessment is hope, and it’s a powerful one.

Hope is more than vague optimism. It comprises four components:

    1. A vision of a positive future
    2. A belief in the existence of solutions to address current problems
    3. An ability to envision multiple pathways to get to the better future
    4. Agency or skills to make progress along those pathways

People with hope are more likely to feel energized rather than fearful about moving forward.

But there’s more. As AQai research progresses, we’re learning that hope is more of a learnable skill than a fixed trait.

Let’s sit with that too.

Then get busy building that skill.

We need it, and momentum might just be on our side.

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