Mantle Hope Blog April 2021

12 Apr 2021

Why a hopeful mindset matters (and how to regain your optimism for 2021)

After an extraordinary challenging 2020, many of us had high expectations for the coming 12 months. You might be feeling that you’re right on track to achieving them. On the other hand, you could also be thinking that 2021 has so far failed to deliver. If that’s the case, should you lower your ambitions and accept disappointment – or is it better to keep those high hopes alive?

After an extraordinary challenging 2020, many of us had high expectations for the coming 12 months. You might be feeling that you’re right on track to achieving them. On the other hand, you could also be thinking that 2021 has so far failed to deliver. If that’s the case, should you lower your ambitions and accept disappointment – or is it better to keep those high hopes alive?

Why hope matters for business leaders

In my many years working in leadership development, I believe that hope is a much-needed emotion. It gives us a sense of positivity, purpose and focus for the future. However, hope is not passive. I quite like Joanna Macy’s idea of ‘active hope’ – that we can do something to support things to turn out well.

Getting your attitude right

Just like our professional hopes, our personal hopes don’t always turn out the way we pictured them. Whether it’s new learning, adapting or being open to having a different experience, having less rigid ideas about how things might happen allows us to still feel like we are achieving. Yet, it’s important to keep the bigger picture in mind.

Being flexible with what you hope for

Being open to change can help us keep those hopes alive and reduce our disappointment when things don’t always turn out the way you’d planned.

It might be a bit like how my summer holiday went. I had planned an active break hiking with some friends. On the first day, after some steep bush basing, I pulled out. This was not what I had planned or hoped for. I decided to go kayaking instead, while the others continued on.

Switching to that ‘Plan B’ was just as good as the tramping experience I’d hoped for – just different.

Don’t fear disappointment

Being hopeful about an outcome is quite different to expecting it to occur. Take the example of climbing a mountain:

  • We hope to get to the top – our attitude means that we are happy when we achieve it and, if we didn’t, a little disappointed.
  • Or, we expect that we will summit – with this mindset, we assume that we will achieve the outcome. Our sense of disappointment will be greater if things don’t turn out in that specific way.

Disappointment is completely natural. In fact, it can be productive by helping us become more emotionally buoyant and adaptive.

Should we lower our expectations?

If setting expectations leads to greater disappointment, should we simply lower our goals? Not at all! Those expectations drive us to improve, achieve, fulfil our potential and become better versions of ourselves. Knowing that this is what we are doing, and being consciously aware of it, allows us to manage our emotional state. Having set high goals also allows us to move on from disappointment faster.

Managing disappointment

If you are feeling disappointed, remember to see it as a bump in the road of life. Move over it, get back on track quickly and think about what you can learn from that experience. Let go of all those secondary emotions (such as regret or shame) that become attached to the disappointment.

Getting hopeful about hope

If you’re feeling like you’ve lost hope, find things to be grateful for. Take care of yourself. Do something for someone else and/or reach out to someone for support. While everyone feels disappointed by unmet expectations at some time, it still seems to me that you can be happier with realistic expectations and high hopes!

About Ruth Donde

Ruth is part of our Mantle leadership team. She is passionate about leadership development, and the impact of personal and professional development on individuals, relationships and organisational outcomes. If you’re interested in discovering how Ruth, and our other experts at Mantle, can support your leadership development programme, secure your initial, no obligation consultation now.

 

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