The Experts Are Wrong: Hope is ABSOLUTELY a Strategy

The Experts Are Wrong:  Hope is ABSOLUTELY a Strategy

I got a phone call from a concerned colleague of mine who heard I was looking for a new gig recently. We spent some time catching up and sharing some stories about how things have changed everywhere, and how important it was to stay relevant. I asked him how he was doing…and the flood gates opened up. Terrible. He’s dealing with new leadership, old products, broken processes, layoffs. It was making it seem impossible to do his job. I asked him how he was dealing with it…what his plan was. His response was “I hope I make it through the next round of layoffs…THEN I will be able reassess.

Hope is his strategy. My response? “Hope Sucks”.

Why Hope SUCKS

I cannot tell you how many times I have said to myself ‘I hope I don’t screw this up’. Looking back…every task or event I have employed “Hope” as a strategy was because I didn’t prepare adequately. I didn’t do the work. I got lazy. When you employ hope – you already expect failure…and you should.

Hope is the companion of lazy, or worse. Malaise. Hope sucks the life out of you.

Hope means you don’t have ANY interest in improving your situation…because you’ve been held down by the fear of failure for so long. It’s prophetic.

The truth is, it is so easy to fail at something YOU DON’T WANT TO DO! Why are you doing this? Why aren’t you doing something you WANT to do? Your fear of failure is making you fail.

I want to be a better triathlete…I want to be a better leader…I want to speak..I want to sell better. I DON’T want to be an operations manager, a paper pusher, unhealthy, or irrelevant.

You Can’t Hope for Better

Hoping is a lot like dreams. Hoping your dreams come true implies you have no plan. Might as well wish upon a star.

You have to BE better. If you can dream, then you can plan. You have the process backwards. Try this:

1. Take stock of where you are RIGHT NOW (For the sake of simplicity – let’s look at your ROLE)

2. What do you like about it…what DON’T you like about it? Two Columns.

* If the Like list is longer than the Don’t Like list: Good

* If not…then you have some work to do

3. Look at the Don’t Like list…if there are things there that you don’t like that are REQUIRED in your role…ask yourself WHY you don’t like them.

* If it is because you are bad at them: Sharpen your tools

*If it is because you know they ineffective: Try Alternatives

*TOO HARD for you?: You don’t have passion for it

4. Assess that you WANT to continue…then commit, or decide you WANT to change, and commit to that.

6. Eliminate Hope and put a simple plan together to BE Better – either at your role, or to yourself…and go find a NEW role.

7. Do it today.

Maybe Your Aren’t Tired of Failing Yet

The task above is not hard. What is hard is being honest…with yourself. If you aren’t honest with yourself, you aren’t done failing yet. That’s OK – you have found some comfort in the routine. But you need to accept that you will be always be eating the hard life.

But if you ARE tired of failing…then you are ready to accept more. That commitment will eventually lead you into the “zone”. We’ve all experienced the “zone”. The total immersion in something where the magic just happens, and productivity sky rockets. We achieve this state of grace seemingly by chance – not always sure how we got into it, but grateful when we do.

My opinion? It’s usually the result of total commitment and a clear vision of purpose.  You cannot expect hope to carry you here. You will need a plan and commit to it. And make it simple.


Break down the situation you are in. What are the 3 things you MUST accomplish? In sales, it could be:

  1. Quota Attainment
  2. Customer Retention
  3. New Customer Acquisition

Each of these require specific activities to generate business. They are usually basic. Unfortunately – these basic actions are constantly interrupted by distractions. Chances are, if you haven’t committed to a plan to ensure these actions are happening…you will find yourself further and further behind, THINKING you are doing your job, but really, you’re not generating anything. You are making it complicated…and hoping that it will all work out.

Solve this problem before it IS a problem. Write down a plan to support your MUSTS. Most people don’t. Don’t be like most people.

This is the key – this is part of your job…and part of what you will become passionate about. It’s really hard to be passionate about some other person’s plan.

Make your own.

Make yours simple, with specific activities to progress. Then do it.

Do The Work

At this point…if you are not liking the role you have…you are already shaking your head, “Hell No…I’m not doing this”!

That’s really good news, actually. Now you know you need to be doing something else, somewhere else. Here is the problem with THAT. You still have to do the work above to find out what you WANT to do, or you are just running away. You can’t escape this…or you will always eat the hard life.

Conversely – if you DO like your role, but you are just not making it HAPPEN…then this framework will at least get you thinking of the things you haven’t done yet…and you should be asking yourself, ‘Why not’?

The Experts are Wrong

Yes…Hope is a strategy. It’s the easiest and most effective way of ensuring a life of constant fear of failure. It’s just not my idea of a GOOD strategy.

Part of making this plan work is a commitment to DO the work. When you commit, you’ll find passion…and you WILL find the zone.

Some great news: You aren’t alone, and you don’t need to DO this alone. You know someone who has done this.

Start talking about it with them. Build up some momentum. Pull the trigger. Make it happen.

Shift your view.


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