Strategic Hope

“Hope is not a strategy.” It’s an old adage used in military, business and political spheres (as well as the latest Mission Impossible movie).

It’s true. Hope alone won’t get you where you want to go. You need to plan and execute. Hope is not a strategy.

But you can be strategic about hope. 

I have found that there are two kinds of hope – what we hope for, and what we hope in

Whenever we hope for something meaningful, there is a cost.

I’m not talking about hoping for good weather for the barbecue. I’m talking about the hopes we hold deeply – for the start-up to prove all the sacrifice worth it; for the loved one to beat that addiction; for the long-awaited child.

Hopes not yet realised require our inner resources to keep them alive, especially when that hope goes unrealised day after day, year after year, even decade after decade. There is a cost to what we hope for.

And how well we meet the cost of what we hope for, depends on what we hope in

We know what we hope in by how we complete one sentence – “Even if everything else falls apart, I will be all right so long as…”

The end of that sentence will tell you what you put your hope in. 

And the substance and permanence of what we put our hope in will determine whether we have the inner resources to meet the cost of what we hope for.

History would tell us that putting our ultimate hope in financial resources, for instance, is not very strategic. Life, geopolitics and the economy are too fickle for that. There are simply no guarantees on our net worth.

What is your unshakeable foundation – what are you putting your hope in – that will ensure you have strength to draw on to meet the cost of holding on to your highest and deepest hopes?

The worst possible strategy is to put our hope in what we hope for

Unfortunately, this is often a temptation. It is an easy trap to fall into, the thought of “Everything will be okay, as soon as (insert hoped-for situation here)”. It is easy to believe that that one missing piece is the key to a fully satisfied, fully flourishing life.

But when we place our hope in what we hope for, we make that thing the horizon of our vision, and it’s impossible to see beyond it. Which means we have no other source of strength with which to meet the cost of that hope deferred – or, in the worst instance, hope unfulfilled.

A better, more deliberate strategy is to place our hope in a source of strength we cannot lose, so we are fortified to hold on and keep paying the cost of what we hope to gain.

Where will you find your most unshakeable source of strength? What will you place your hope in that will allow you to reach for your greatest, most meaningful hopes?

If we are deliberate about what we place our hope in, we give ourselves the best possible chance to hold on as long as it takes to see realised what we hope for.