We have only to consult our experience to know that our leaders’ and co-workers’ moods and outlooks affect us. My colleague Cheryl radiates sunshine and hope; they “power” her life. During a year-long collaboration, I marveled at her earnest friendliness, genuine curiosity about others, and often-expressed appreciation. When we faced challenges, her hope buoyed me.
Poet Emily Dickinson pictured hope as a bird—fragile and strong, delicate and unstoppable, freely given and giving generously.
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all.
And sweetest in the gale is heard:
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chillest land
And on the strangest sea:
Yet never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
Try an “awareness experiment” about how hopeful people affect you.
- Begin by thinking of two or three people you know well who have a sunny outlook, a hopeful approach to living.
- Now focus on one of these people, or all of them, one at a time. Reflect on what it is like to be around them.
- Notice your thoughts. Jot them down. Then see if you notice patterns.
- Notice how you feel, and jot down these feelings. Are there patterns?
- Notice your body. For instance, are you inwardly or outwardly smiling? Feeling “up?” How is your breathing?
Now complete your Learning Cycle by asking: What did you just learn? What is one thing you will do differently today to sing hope’s song?
Here are suggestions for exploring further.
- Look up Positive Emotional Attractors, of which hope is one, on the web.
- Read some of the brain and social science research that explains how we boost our own growth and inspire others with Attractors like hope.
- Do the exercises in chapter 4 of Resonant Leadership.
- Do more “awareness experiments” on your own.