Sunday, 30 December 2018

Hope - Day 31

Monday 31st December - New Year's Eve
31 is the most common number of days in the Western Calendar's months. The rhyme that many
people use as a reminder ("Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November; All the rest
have thirty-one, 
Excepting February alone, And that has twenty-eight days clear; 
And twenty-nine
in each leap year.") was first published in 1555, when it was copied into a manuscript. It is probably
the only 16th century poem that many ordinary people know by heart.
I hope the months ahead are happy and healthy ones for you and yours.
The end is nigh, in more ways than one. Today is the last day of 2018 and it is also the final guest post that I will curate and host as part of the Advent Blog series, well at least for the foreseeable future. There have been some brilliant pieces this year - huge thanks to all the contributors. It is New Year's Eve and for the first time for ages we are not going to a party, instead we are cooking a family meal at home. I am looking forward to spending some time with my sons. We have a big party on Saturday to celebrate Hamish's 21st. He has asked me to say a few words, so I need to give that some thought. It is a funny feeling seeing your children become adults. I'm sure I should feel older than I do.

The final guest post in this year's Advent Blog series is by start-up and individual and organisational growth specialist Christine Locher. With an academic grounding in Communication, Psychology and Intercultural studies in her native Germany (during which time she also worked as a journalist), Christine is a high achiever. Post university she commenced her career in consulting, working first for McKinsey and then Boston Consulting Group, undertaking a variety of client and internal development roles before focussing on the growth of consultants at all levels. She ran global leadership and learning for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu before a brief stint at Oliver Wyman and BTS. Christine has a passion for seeing others thrive and grow. In 2017 she decided to branch out on her own, founding her own leadership development business. She is an excellent coach (ICF standard with high level academic qualifications in thinking and change as well as communication and psychology) and tends to work with entrepreneurs and growing businesses, especially within the tech space. Although a global nomad, Christine is currently based in London, where she takes advantage of the breadth of experiences that the City offers. She is a voracious reader with an almost insatiable curiosity - quite capable of ensuring that the details are not missed when effecting the big picture plan. Christine is a keen and natural networker - I recommend your connecting with her on Twitter, her handle is @ChristineLocher. I like her post as it is full of hope and we all need a but of that.

“Help me, Obiwan Kenobi, you are my only hope.” (Princess Leia, Star Wars. Sending this into a galactic void, hoping to get heard. She did, eventually.)

Hope is one of our most beautiful qualities as humans. No matter how deep the colossal mess is that we might find ourselves in, we manage to, at least in a good moment, lift our eyes off the chin-deep muck we are in and towards the horizon. We imagine a future that is better. Hope is what keeps a sacred space for that imagination, not as an escapist delusion, but as a vision that just hasn’t been implemented yet. Hope gives us energy when the struggle has taken it all. Hope is what keeps us alive. This time. Next time. All the time.

Hope doesn’t need to wear rainbow unicorns or come with an ethereal violin soundtrack to work. Hope can be an empty parking lot at 3am shouting obscenities at the big man in the sky in existential disagreement to then sleep off the hangover, make your first cup of coffee, take a good hard look at your life, to keep going for another day, this time better. It doesn’t need to be pretty. It doesn’t need to be instagrammed. It just needs to be there, however it looks and feels at the moment. Hope, at all times, is as real as you allow it to be. I’ll just say that again. Hope is as real as you allow it to be. 

We have of course no proof or confirmation any of our hopes will ever come true. But hope doesn’t need that (and neither do you, you hope-endowed human, and deep-down you know it). Hope knows that tomorrow is another day, that one decision or one conversation or one encounter can reset the path to a better future that you can’t even imagine yet. And that you just don’t know beforehand which one it is going to be this time. So you keep going.

You might have a vision, or you might have had one but lost touch with it, as your daily mess is too far away right now so you have a hard time seeing how you get from over here to over there. Hope hears you. Hope reminds you that you don’t need to see the whole path to be able to take a step. And then another one. Hope focuses you on the things that work, so you can start doing more of them. Making small changes, which then add up to the big change. It’s how most big changes or successes work anyway, despite what it looks like on social media. And hope knew that all along. You might be deep down the problem hole right now, but there is no point in wasting more of the energy you don’t have focusing on how deep and messy it is. 

Focus on how you get out. Hope here serves as the magical, ever-elusive “air hook”. You can tie a rope to it and start pulling, and, with hope, it actually works.

Hope also lets you build trust. Take that first step first, without having to wait for the other one to begin. Raise that topic. Have that conversation. Mention the thing you are afraid to mention. Take small risks, be mostly rewarded, and start being less alone in this. It is easier to be hopeful when you have a tribe of supporters. Hope invites participation and support from other humans (and some friendly ‘droids…). Hope is stronger when shared. This, in turn, paves the way for others so they can dare to keep going as well. Hope lifts everyone.

You'll Never Walk Alone

When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don't be afraid of the dark
At the end of a storm
There's a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark
Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown
Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll

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