I’m no Clark Griswold, but I did put my Christmas lights up earlier than usual this year. Part of it would be that we had our first non-rainy day in Victoria in what feels like weeks. But more than that, I think it’s my way of pushing back against shorter days and the mental/emotional fatigue that COVID’s ‘second wave’ has brought along with it. More than ever before, my Christmas lights are a symbol of hope and coming better (and longer) days.
Hope is more than just wishful thinking or blind optimism that denies reality. Hope acknowledges the darkness of the hour but shines as a beacon of light despite it. Barak Obama said it this way: “Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we dare to reach for it, to work for it, and to fight for it.”
Good leaders know how to use hope as a way to sustain people through the darkest of seasons. It’s one of the reasons that I appreciate BC’s Public Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s approach to the COVID crisis. Even as numbers spike in BC, she generally finds something hopeful to say in her 3 PM press conferences. Those brief sentences accomplish several leadership functions.
- They are calming. Crisis and adversity can be overwhelming. Hope helps us take a deep breath when our instincts are to hyperventilate and either panic or rebel.
- Hopeful words sustain us. Followers need a clear message that gives them a reason to believe for a better day, or they’ll start to follow other voices that take them to fear or rebellion.
- Hope mobilizes us to embrace the challenges that the crisis/difficulties present because we know it’s not forever. We sacrifice, work and fight because we believe that a better day is coming.
The road forward is challenging for leaders and followers alike. It will be an easier road for everyone when leaders provide hope to those who are following.
— Tim Schindel