Talent isn’t Enough

When we live with Active Hope, we have a vision for the future AND the discipline to make that vision a reality. We understand that the idea alone isn’t enough. Our Active Hope gives us focus.

Talent alone isn’t enough; education isn’t enough. There are many educated, talented individuals who are unsuccessful. Active hope is a North Star; active hope provides the discipline to remain focused on the vision.

We all have dreams – visions of what we want in the future. Some of our goals are simply wishes, and that’s natural. It’s natural to dream of winning the Mega Millions and owning your island in the Caribbean. Having a vision for your future and embracing the discipline needed to make that hope a reality is also natural.  

As educators, we cultivate a vision of endless possibilities for our students, teach them that discipline is required for future success, and instill in each student the understanding that earning success requires work and focus.

Passive Hope vs Active Hope

My friend and mentor Tim Kight recently shared a distinction between passive hope and active hope by saying, “Passive hope wishes for something and then waits to see what happens. It wants, but it doesn’t work. Active hope, on the other hand, clarifies a desired future, and then takes disciplined action to achieve that future.”

As school leaders, we must teach students that “wanting” something doesn’t make it happen. If a student “wants” to attend Ohio State or “wants” to become a cyber security expert, the vision is excellent, but more is required to make the wish a reality.

We teach students to “do the work.” Making dreams come true doesn’t happen with pixie dust. Dreams come true when we have the vision, do the work, and live with active hope. Active hope provides the energy and confidence to embrace the journey, learn from failures, and gain skills through experiences.  

Do the Work

Leading with hope is challenging. I don’t believe there are “hopeful” and “pessimistic people.” Each of us gets to choose our mindset; we decide how we view the world. Our mindset isn’t fixed; we can choose to improve our approach to how we think, feel, and live.

With mindset being an individual choice, each of us is accountable for our own life’s work. Of course, it is easier to be an optimistic leader when things are going well. When our own experiences are negative, when bad things happen to us that are out of our control, maintaining a positive mindset is much more difficult.  

One of my life’s mentors is battling stage four cancer. For most, a terminal diagnosis is not only the cause, but permission, to be negative. But for Tim, this battle is what he’s been training for his entire life. His mindset during experimental treatments – when he is physically pushed to a breaking point – is inspirational. Each day is a gift for Tim – an opportunity to do the work.

Without a doubt, life isn’t easy. Bad things happen in our lives – many events we can’t control. Being Hopeful requires practice and repetition; it requires being disciplined. Doing the work is the only path to success.

The Miracle of Hope

I live my life with a mindset of hope.  

Hope = Possibility + Faith

Hope is having a vision for the future – a picture in your mind’s eye of what tomorrow can be – with the faith that you can make it happen. Faith, defined as trust or confidence without evidence, is critical for optimistic leaders.  

We are all leaders. When we envision a better future with the faith that we can collectively make that vision a reality, we lead with hope.  

This work is challenging; it isn’t natural. There are days and moments every day when I have negative thoughts and feelings. There are days and moments in every day that I need to be more disciplined in my mindset. Optimistic leadership requires practice; the work demands repetition. The most critical work is difficult; we build these skills over time. It is the slow, daily work that makes us better as leaders.

Do the work.