How do you inspire hope when someone is really stuck?
Jason had all the signs and words of “stuck.”
“I can’t.” “No one will help.” “No options.”
He’d stopped trying to improve the situation and just tried to numb it.
His “sports ready” stance had withered to hunched and clenched. He still had an occasional “wish” for a miracle. But wishes without action are another side of hopeless.
And yet, from the outside looking in, we saw huge possibility, talent, and relationships worth leveraging. We yearned to help him adjust his lens to see new beginnings and inspire hope.
How do you inspire hope in someone like Jason?
7 Ways to Inspire Hope
One thing most leadership training programs leave out is that leadership is a hope business.
Great leaders are ambassadors of possibility.
When tired eyes look your way, engage them in gentle challenges. Help them to realize more.
Here are 7 ways to inspire hope in your team:
1. Commit to Hope
What vision of the future do you communicate? Is it attractive? Does it call people to be their best selves? Is your vision worth the work, sweat, struggle, and perseverance?
Acknowledge reality. You don’t need to sugar-coat the truth – that erodes trust and hope. Start with reality and then move to hope: “Here’s where we are. Here’s what’s possible. And I know we can do it.”
2. Start with your own heart
Navigate your narratives and tap into your own stories. Where has hope transformed your life? Who gave you hope when you weren’t sure you could get there? Connect with what’s possible and remember those feelings of turnaround and triumph. You’ll provide that same passion in your connections with your team.
3. Ask possibility questions
Sit with them in the silence of consideration before narrowing to questions of what’s feasible. Hope is rooted in possibility. What can you do together? You may need to start with small steps and small wins to help someone regain their belief in themselves, their team, and you.
4. Discover stories of past success
If you’ve known the person for a while, what history can you call on to re-inspire? If they are new to you, perhaps ask them “In your career, what are you most proud of?” Find those positive feelings then connect them to potential actions.
5. Identify folks to crew the lifeboat
Who do they (and you) know who could help? Encourage the fortitude to ask for the help they need.
6. Open doors
Sure, they need to do the heavy lifting. But when your hands are full, it’s helpful when someone opens a door.
7. Commit to continuing support
Ensure that this is more than a one-time “pep talk.” Schedule the finish: when will you follow up? How? Make an appointment for both of you to check-in and take those next steps.
How do You Inspire Hope?
We would love to hear from you: how do you inspire hope and energize your forlorn team members?
Welcome (Back) to the Hope Business
Hope is the thing which gives us strength throughout each day. When the news of the day punches us in the face, it is only hope which keeps us moving forward. Martin Luther King, Jr. was only able to move forward because of his HOPE it would be better one day. Without it, where would we be today? My addition for inspiring possible would be catching someone doing something right and encourage them. This could be the only person who says something nice today, thus providing HOPE that tomorrow will be better than today!
Dave, Thanks as always for contributing to the conversation. Beautiful addition. We can inspire hope in the small moments each day. Let’s see how much hope we can inspire today.
Wonderful post, Karin and one that truly resonates with me! I am a believer in hope, because it does begin the process of action and promise. In fact, I would even say that hope is the precursor to excitement and can inspire a team to reach even higher.
I begin each day with a sense of hope, looking forward to what my personal and professional work may bring. I think hope is also contagious and when it’s part of a leader’s soul, it can motivate a team and others they connect with.
Terri, Thank so so much. I love your thoughts on hope being contagious…yes!
Wonderful Karin. When nothing else is left, hope and faith that life will get better helps you put one foot in front of the other.
I would add…Look at what you can learn from any experience. If you see the lesson maybe you can see a clearer path to take.
Sue, Fantastic add…. there is deep hope in learning.
I love this article…it’s so full of hope! Seriously, you raise some great points and my personal favorite is hinting at the possible by asking questions…questions have an amazing way of drawing people out, and when that happens all sorts of things become possible.
As far as adding anything, I would add “instilling others with a sense of purpose gives them hope.” Purpose allows us to see something bigger and better beyond ourselves and into the future. Isn’t that what we want for our children, and why hope is the greatest gift we can give to them.
LaRae, Thank you. Ahhh, yes, purpose is such an important gift to inspire hope. Great add.
Thank you for another highly inspiring post, am sharing this now. As for # 7, I would add
” Believe in them more than they do themselves”
Sridhar. Wonderful addition. Our belief inspires vital hope.
I love your post. but you know how I feel about hope.
Hope to me is another word for TRY.
I will (hope) try to leave this marriage
I will (hope) try to lead myself to making a difference.
I will (hope) try to transform my career
I will (hope) try to inspire my kids.
“Hope” and “try” are attached to an outcome and If I am attached to an outcome I just might be setting myself up for disappointment.
TRY, HOPE, EXPECTATIONS are all in the same family. When we create expectations, hope, trying we create connection to a outcome! and it leads us out of the present moment.
Hope is based on fear.
Try is based on trepidation
Life is about the letting go of all the hoping and making the present moment its gift.
Lead From Within
Lolly, Thanks so much for your beautiful reply. It’s a wonderful expansion of this conversation. I wonder… how do we inspire possibility in the future, without attachment?
LIFE is more about intention and then letting go ( detachment)
The moment we hold on to something is the moment we open our opening ourselves up to disappointment, suffering and pain and lose.
If we attach ourselves, if we hope -we put ourselves in a box.
a box of our own thinking.
if we state an intention and let it go.
it opens it up to something beyond our imagination.
something we could not have thought of with our past thinking and doing.
What I speak about is expansion of self, its the language of the heart.
Lolly, Ahhhh, yes… that helps a lot. I need something for the future… intention works well 😉
We can work with all our heart toward positive intentions, but stay open to the moments and the journey along the way. That makes sense… and brings up many experiences… it’s the old Rolling Stones motto… get what you need. I’ve got a lot of that going on in my life right now.
Thanks for caring so much.
Thank you Karin for your inspiring words which also show us how to take action.
Another question I would ask is “What do you WANT to do?” Gives them permission to have it their way (which may include not taking action) and helps me to let go of being responsible.
I am in love with this list. Great leaders know how to connect with people and connecting with your heart is what you should do in order to succeed! Great post!
You said it, Sam! That heart connection is at the core of influence.
I’m one year late into this post, but I absolutely appreciate your advices to inspire hope first in oneself then in others. I stumble to this post because I find myself becoming negative and my conversation usually depicts nothing-can-be-done and hopelessness. Thank you!
Moses, Thanks so much for sharing your struggle. I do hope you will join our community (just enter your email address, it’s free). There are a lot of folks who are their inspiration and hope. There’s always something that can be done. You have more power than you think.