How to Lead Your Business When It’s Hard to Find Hope

While owning a business always has some degree of challenges, it is much easier to fulfill that responsibility with enthusiasm, motivation, and courage when times are “good.” And by good, we don’t necessarily mean when everything is going “right.” But rather, for a business, it can simply mean the absence of negative external factors that prevent a business from thriving, despite the best intentions and efforts of owners.

 

In other words, it’s not nearly as difficult to lead a business in times when the only real challenges are the ones you can identify, address, and to some degree, control.

 

Yet, what if you’re leading a business in times that are tough — perhaps even, unbelievably rough — due to conditions that you not only can’t control, but possibly can’t even mitigate either?

 

What do you do? How do you lead your business to not even thrive, but survive, when external factors make it hard to find hope?

 

First, let’s examine… what does it mean to have “hope?”

 

According to Psychology Today, “Hope can be defined as the desire for something combined with an anticipation of it happening. In short, hope is the anticipation of something desired.” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201411/what-hope)

 

Using this definition of “hope”—how can we as leaders find hope, and extend that hope to our businesses and teams— when times are so uncertain? In other words, when it feels like we have no reasonable reason to anticipate those things that we desire for our businesses and teams—stability, security, growth, and success—are likely to happen, any time soon.

 

This answer isn’t simple, of course. But the answer really lies in the question—the idea of hope itself. Hope really begins with a belief (not a feeling) that what we desire is possible. It’s not what we are experiencing as our currently reality and not what we are afraid “might” happen (this is a feeling, not a belief).

 

The same Psychology Today article linked above says:

 

“To hope for something is to desire that thing, and to believe, rightly or wrongly, that the probability of it happening, though less than one, is greater than naught. If the probability of it happening is one or very close to one, it is not a hope but an expectation; if it is naught it is a fantasy; and if it is very close to naught it is a wish. The borderline between a hope and a wish is moot, and more a question of emphasis than anything else.”

 

Therefore, for business leaders to have and build hope, even in tough times, we need to believe that whatever challenges we are facing are temporary, and won’t or don’t necessarily impact us, our business, and our team, long-term.

We need to remember that we’ve had rough times before—and we’ve overcome them. Thus, the odds of achieving that success are “…greater than naught.” In fact, achieving success again, after the tough times are past, might even truly be an expectation as it definitely not a fantasy—or even a wish.

 

Read that again…

 

We can KNOW that we can achieve success when these uncontrollable challenges have gone, because we’ve had success before.

 

It is possible and therefore, we really can expect that once these hard times have passed, we, our businesses, and our teams, will succeed.  We will innovate, grow, and excel once again.

 

In other words, this too—as it has in the past—shall pass. We just need to remember that maintaining hope is necessary. We need to believe it and help to instill and build that same hope in our businesses and our employees, even our customers and partners, too. Hope is what will keep us going, and growing, now and into the future.