Years ago I worked for a CEO who was known to remind his teams that “hope is not a business plan.”
He was emphatic that business planning in the company be based in the expectation for positive results, but built out with an understanding of the commitments and resources needed to create those upside outcomes. It was not acceptable for teams to present hopeful representations of what they want to deliver.
I’m reminded of this constantly when I’m in conversations with people about their aspirations and desires for success and fulfillment. I hear their hopeful talk about the expectations they have for their work and what their lives will be like when that happens. When I ask what their plan is to get there and what they’re doing to make it reality, the conversation stops.
Silence. Uncomfortable sighs. Shrugging shoulders. Fidgeting. Full stop, for a few prickly moments. And then it comes. “I guess I just hope it works out.” GAHHH!!
People! It is time to face the fact that hope is NOT a success plan.
Far too many of us, for way too long, have consented to hoping for the success we want. We submit to a back seat on our own bus to success and assume that working hard and being a good person will lead to the greatest possible results.
We go on autopilot, and bury ourselves in work. We hope for a break in the mayhem thinking that’s when we’ll do something. We hope for projects that will challenge us. We hope to be tapped for opportunities to lead plum initiatives. We hope that in the process we don’t get laid off because then we’ll be really stuck without a plan.
While hope must be revered for its openness, expectation, ambition, and positivity, hope alone DOES NOT create success.
Yes, hope creates the possibility of achievement and represents the potential for growth, but it is critical that we recognize that there is there is no direct output from hope. There’s no inherent action in hope. It is a state of forward anticipation that on its own goes nowhere. Yet we so readily give over our future to it.
Before I get accused of being a “negative Nancy” or a “dream crusher”, let me be crystal clear. This is not about abandoning hope. This is about waking up to the fact that we must do more than hope!
Tie your desired outcomes to tactical details about what you will do, when, and with what resources. Add action to hope. Check your progress. Be attentive to what you’re doing as you follow your plan. Decisively adjust course as you go.
It’s time to re-engage and take back the wheel on your road to success!