When I woke up today, I picked up my gratitude journal and thought… what exactly do I feel grateful for? Honestly, I didn’t feel great, or positive, or happy. And despite the hard work I’ve done and courageous decisions I’ve made to build my life on my terms, it wasn’t there this morning. So I did a “truth check” and asked myself what, then, are you feeling? Is there gratitude, and if so for what? No sugar coating, no trying to be positive if it’s not really what’s going on.
What came to the surface was this. I am grateful that I haven’t given up. Despite all the loss of the last few years, the seemingly endless string of mountains to climb, and boatloads of doubt and uncertainty. I have not given up. Faith and hope are still alive, and so am I. That was enough for me today.
A former business colleague of mine is famous for saying to her team, “Hope is not a strategy,” and in the business world, a world led by action and logic, that sure makes a lot of sense. One cannot sit back, do nothing, and simply hope things will improve. By this path, they surely will not.
But I say hope and faith together (especially with a dusting of courage) ARE a strategy. And here’s why. At the heart of faith is certainty. It is a deep seated truth we feel in our hearts despite having no logical or evidential reasons why it is or should be true. A friend recently sent me a note in which she had chosen two angels for me, faith and humor. Faith was described as “the unshakable knowing of the heart when nothing makes sense to the mind.” Perfect.
It is that feeling that you are making the right decision, taking the right steps, or even choosing NOT to make a decision and standing still until the time is right, both of which take tremendous courage. It is letting yourself sink into the comfort of knowing you are in the right place, on the right path, exactly where and as you should be despite the world or others telling you otherwise. It is believing that in time all the pieces will come together, that the people you need will cross your path at the right time to bring you to a destination that could only be reached by taking these thoughtful, patient steps.
Whether you are a leading your own life, or leading others, you must have faith, or intuition, or the ability to tap into that which does not yet exist. Intuition and faith provide the vision that guides us into the unknown, and the ambiguous, with courage. Without intuition or faith, any strategy can only see what is, or as far as reports and data can inform what to safely and predictably do next. The best leaders in life, and in business, use feeling, intuition, hope and yes, even heart — to take bold steps.
So you see, faith and hope really are a strategy. They are actions of courage against the inaction of despair and doubt, they are acts of inner strength against the hopelessness of sitting idle, they are expansive against the contracting grip of fear. And sometimes they are all you have. When hope and faith are what stand between you and giving up, and give you the support to keep going, that is one strong barricade, and that’s enough of a strategy for today, and the coming year. Happy New Year!