Like the start of every year, over the last couple of weeks, my social media feeds have been a pretty constant stream of predictions and aspirations for the year ahead.
I admire people who make predictions and recognize that it’s a difficult thing to do – particularly when we’re living through such turbulent times. As Scott Galloway pointed out in the introduction to his own very worthy set, “the value of the prediction is in the making of it, not the prediction itself.”
Aspirations on the other hand are part of a goal-setting process many of us do at this time of year in the form of New Year’s Resolutions. We know through research that most of us have already moved on from those well-intentioned goals raising valid questions about how effective it is as an approach.
Of course, there is no judgment applied to that, but having walked down that road many times myself, I’ve decided to take a slightly different approach to predictions and aspirations this year.
I’ve been thinking a lot about hopes rather than predictions or aspirations. Rightly or wrongly, hope feels like something I can control and influence.
Writer and CEO Eric Liu seems to be aligned with my thinking. He compared hope to optimism.
To be optimistic is to assume things will work out. To be hopeful is to realize things can work out if you work at them. Hope requires responsibility not agency. Optimism relieves us of both.
My sophisticated audience (hi Mum!) does not need to hear a detailed Case for Hope. Instead, at the risk of taking you down a doomscrolling spiral, indulge me as I share three recent and somewhat diverse items from my newsfeed and lived experience that emphasize the need for hope.
1. Largely related to heritage, UK politics still takes up a fair proportion of my attention. By the time this post gets published (or read), Bumbling Boris may (🤞) have resigned following his almost comical and completely insensitive response to Downing Street lockdown parties. How can we expect to create a better world when our most senior political leaders lack such integrity?
2. A report published earlier this month by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives identified that the 100 highest-paid CEOs now make on average 191 times more than the average worker in Canada. Data from other countries will tell a consistent story. How have we created such disparity in our organizations particularly in a year when so many workers suffered so deeply?
3. Finally, and much closer to home, I recently experienced one of those “Kevin” moments I referenced in last month’s Case for Kindness post when an irate fellow Starbucks customer was determined to take my wife’s order for an extra hot, oat milk latte. Without boring you with the details, how are we helping people whose experience of life is creating an unhealthy level of pent-up anger that is waiting to be unleashed by the smallest event?
I urge you to use these (and your own) reminders of hopelessness as fuel to amplify your own hope and not to forget the many good things to be grateful for.
In thinking about my own hopes for the year ahead, I was reminded of the Goat Rodeo Project values – Community, Compassion, Creativity.
When I defined those values for myself and my business, they resonated, and they still do. What I realized was that I hadn’t been using them intentionally enough in my recent work. That was insightful in itself, so what better way to bring them to life than to use them to frame my hopes for the year ahead.
Living through the second third fourth another lockdown in Ontario makes it difficult to focus on community – unless you cap it at four other people. But community is so much bigger than meeting in person. It’s about building something together that creates meaning. I am hopeful that community in 2022 will lead to more action on climate change and more positive action around workers’ rights. I’m also excited by the opportunities to build even greater connection and impact in the communities I am (or will be) part of.
The need for empathy has been well documented through our pandemic journey. We know from research that people with an empathetic leader are more engaged.
Empathy is about being able to understand another person’s perspective – what they are going through.
I am hopeful for more compassion in 2022 – taking those empathetic feelings and turning them into a desire to help. This compassion needs to start with ourselves – focused on self. From there we are ready to be compassionate with others and then the world we live in. I am excited to continue my own journey of compassion in 2022.
The opportunities presented to reimagine work were the silver lining to the pandemic. We have demonstrated our creativity by being able to quickly adapt to changing circumstances. With more and more companies considering how to reimagine work, I am hopeful this experience gives us the collective confidence to take bigger and bolder steps to create better places to work in 2022. I am excited about the opportunities presented by remote work, the 4-day week, human-centred leadership, self-managed teams and conscious capitalism (to name a few ideas) and will be sharing more about these and other game-changing initiatives in 2022.
Remembering that having hope and being hopeful requires work and responsibility, these will become my guide for 2022 to inform my actions, my energy and my impact. Let’s get to work!