I was asked to do a short vlog on hope. Thus far I have failed. I have failed because hope is perhaps the biggest word in the world and I cannot seem to find the right words to truly express its scope, impact and true meaning.
So, I turn to the dictionary for inspiration and what I find is this:
As a noun ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen’ — my god this is even more inadequate than even I could have imagined.
As a verb ‘want something to happen or be the case.’ Again woefully inadequate.
And so I look to quotes to help me capture something so big, so intangible and yet so real and I find hope in one of those quotes — hope that someone has got close to expressing what hope actually is:
“Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tune without the words and never stops at all.” Emily Dickinson
And then the problem in defining hope hits me — it’s not just a noun, verb or concept, it’s a feeling, an inexplicable force — it is magic in action.
I believe that hope is effectively the essence of humanity. Whilst we need air to breath, to be physically alive, we need hope to be emotionally, mentally, intellectually and spiritually alive.
It is not possible to restrict hope to words. It is a vast energy that drives an eco-system way beyond our human understanding. It is quite simply the greatest magician of all — whilst we have hope anything is possible and when we do not have hope, nothing is possible.
And it is in our times our adversity, confusion and suffering that we need hope the most. When we cannot see the logical or human solution, or fear the weight of suffering is too great for us to bear, some may pray for miracles, but I reach for hope. Because as long as you have hope, you will continue to get up each and everyday, you will continue to look for a way, you will continue to believe in yourself and in others, you will continue to simply take the next best step and you will continue to grow, until one day you will look back and see just how far hope has brought you and then a whole new level of hope will enter your world, one that will take you far further than you could have ever possibly imagined.
That’s the best I can do in expressing how I see hope in totality, but the reality is that hope enters our life every minute, of every day, often in different guises and for different reasons. I’ve noted a few of my observations on life below and upon reading them I note that there is one common theme that runs through them all — hope. Hope that things can change for the better, hope that people can find their connection with one another, hope that people can ask and receive the help they need and hope that people can always find hope.
So, here’s hoping they can inspire hope in you, in someway, today.
Do we really mean reach out for help?
We tell people to reach out, to ask for help.
It’s not so easy when your job and your reputation is on the line.
And yes we say ‘it’s ok not to be ok’.
But is it really?
Can we honestly say, ‘I’m not managing’, when we’ve spent our whole lives making ourselves manage and watching others do so too?
For those of us who do speak out, we are still in the minority and we do carry a stigma.
But perhaps it’s quite the opposite, perhaps we are so awake and so able to feel when our soul is at odds with our world, that we are actually fully and wholly alive.
And perhaps we need to stop expecting others to reach out for help in a world still driven by rhetoric, which has yet to truly understand what not being ok means.
Perhaps our leaders are not just here to lead, but to be the heartbeat in amongst us all, to spot where the help is needed, to enable people to take that help, to hold their hand whilst they find their way and to be the translator to enable genuine human connection, that moves beyond artificial boundaries of rank or organisation, to enable people to be all that they can.
I do not believe people are ‘not up to it’, I think we are failing to fundamentally connect with each another and understand one another’s needs.
And that is when we really need help.
What happens when the unexpected comes to play
It’s ok when you are part of the elite, when life has nothing but success and riches to offer you.
But none of that man made bullsh*t will save you when the unexpected, comes to play.
Mental struggles, death, failure, rejection, seemingly hopeless situations, will weave their way into your life without rhyme or reason and you will be left bereft and feeling alone.
But you are not alone. Quite the opposite. The very things that we hide for fear of judgement, are the very things that connect us.
So, to all of those people hiding their struggles in isolation, please reach out because someone somewhere, will sure as hell be hiding their’s too.
And to all those people, who have yet to have life bring them to their knees, be kind because when you need help, it will not come from your world of superficial success, but from those people whom you may well have judged unfairly, because it looked like they were simply not as good as you, which is of course untrue, they are simply not the same as you.
But when it matters, it will be the people who have been on their knees, who know the pain of suffering, who will hold out their hand to help, because they know, the only thing that will help is deep and pure human connection.
What we really need
We need more than purpose.
We need more than meaning.
We need deep, trust based human connection.
We need time to develop and maintain those connections.
We need the freedom to access them when the going gets tough.
And we need to understand that without these relationships, this space to share and to simply be, we do not have the solid foundations upon which any meaningful, or purpose driven outcomes can be achieved.
You want an organisation that really makes a difference, then make your people your primary meaning and purpose and they will do the rest.
Start leading with your heart not your head — that’s where real change and real connection is to be found — not in a world so driven by transactional needs, overwhelming to do lists and pressure driven judgement, that we loose sight of the fact we are human beings who need connection, a safe space to reflect and a genuine appreciation that people are doing their very best given the hand they are dealt.
Being true to you
It takes courage to admit you are not thriving or not coping.
It takes courage to recognise you are making sacrifices that are affecting your well-being.
It takes courage to share those feelings and truths with others.
But it takes real self-love and acceptance of all that you are and are not, to take the steps required to change your reality, in order to be all that you can.
It’s ok to face your truth, to ask for help, to walk away from something that’s not for you.
Everyone has their own journey, their own purpose, their own place to be.
Life is just too short to stay because you are afraid of your truth, what others may or may not think and to simply fight to survive each day.
Your time is precious, you are precious — be true to yourself and then you can be true to others too.
Losing humanity in pursuit of meaning
Working on a meaningful outcome does not directly translate into meaningful work, or a feeling of meaning.
That is created by the culture you work within to deliver that outcome.
And the irony is, that in pursuit of such meaningful outcomes, you run a very real risk of treating people merely as resources, rather than whole human beings, because the mindset of ‘the means justifies the end’ can take over.
This is a short term and a fundamentally flawed approach, which at best will kill creativity and at worst burn people out and harm their mental well-being in ways you simply cannot imagine, unless you have been there yourself.
If you really want to achieve meaningful outcomes, you need to focus on your people, their well-being, their needs, their fears and their vulnerability.
People working in Psychologically safe environments, who can show up and own up as themselves, working in teams created by trust not merely a function, will deliver those meaningful outcomes, with more meaning and impact than you could ever have imagined.
Please don’t loose your humanity in pursuit of meaning.
The next best step
Just take the next best step.
Each and everyday.
It doesn’t matter what others think about that step.
It matters what you think.
And that step will look different each day for each person.
Some days it will be huge and others it will simply mean surviving.
Yes we are in the midst of a global pandemic.
Yes we are facing unknown and unprecedented times.
Yes we are distanced from our family and loved ones.
But please remember that none of that stops us from taking the next best step.
Keep it simple, stay in the here and now and do what you can.
That is more than enough.
You are more than enough.
The next best step is enough and always has been.
Making the impossible possible
To make something impossible, you just need to believe it to be so.
It should have been impossible to go to university having all but failed my A levels, but it wasn’t.
It should have been impossible to get a job with a blue chip company given my career choices, but it wasn’t.
It should have been impossible to set up a business and give birth to my first child, but it wasn’t.
It should have been impossible to raise 3 children whilst experiencing PND, traumatic deaths and a shitty menopause, but it wasn’t.
It should have been impossible to resurrect a career after a 10 year absence, a complete loss of confidence and a public profile that shared my lowest points, but it wasn’t.
Your reality is yours and yours alone to define.
You decide what is the art of the possible and what is not.
No one else, not ever.
You may not get to choose the hand you are dealt, but you sure as hell get to choose how you play it.
So, please play it your way, at your pace, to your values.
A bit about me: I aspire to inspire people to be themselves, to embrace all of themselves, warts and all. To re-define our reality, to be more honest and sustainable. To re-define success, to be more diverse and focus on the stuff that really matters, not the shiny sh•t, that you cannot take with you anyway.
No-one will remember what car you drove, but my goodness, they will remember if you made them smile, feel good about themselves and accepted them for who they are. It is the gifts of kindness and understanding that will last beyond your lifetime, not the gifts of gold.
I’m a mum, writer, transformation consultant and all round eccentric, doing my own thing, in my own way, in the hope I can make others smile and love themselves a little bit more.
My blog, library of curiosity, daily inspiration and lots of other things, can be found on my website www.nikdavis.com.
My alternative and eclectic approach to fashion and design can be found at www.lillyisabella.co.uk.
I love people, I love life and I love to talk, so please feel free to reach out and let’s have a conversation.