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Put hope into practice

Hope can be an action leaders regularly practice, and not just a wish or a feeling.

4 min read



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Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is by Jeanie Cockell and Joan McArthur-Blair and is an excerpt from “Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry.


My beautiful friend—hope

You point me toward the sun

You shelter me in the rain

You trumpet my successes


Hold me in my sorrow

Ever whispering,

Rise up

Rise up

~ Joan McArthur-Blair

Hope and a hopeful view are intentional practices that can be embraced and emboldened. The practice of hope involves persistence and repetition. We recognize that the journey to the practice of hope is individual and comes from different experiences and learnings along the way.

Below is a series of ideas to think about when pursuing your personal practice.

  • Hope is a meta-outcome of appreciative inquiry. Appreciative inquiry, with its being fully aware and inquiring into what might be, is a practice of finding hope within the leadership journey. By examining what is and seeking what might be, leaders can find pathways that are not always obvious.
  • Leaders are a part of something bigger than themselves. This mindset recognizes one is just a part of something bigger. It opens the heart and mind to letting go of the idea that everything must be within one’s control. When a person sees oneself as part of something bigger, it is possible to see the glimmers of hope for oneself and others.
  • The practice of hope is not necessarily automatic or easy. Learning the rhythm of compromise, politics, and sitting with colleagues and deeply celebrating the work you create together fosters the practice of hope. Knowing it is not easy, will help you flourish in times of ambiguity.
  • Hope is not always about the here and now. Rather, it might be more about seeing a far-off distant future. It is not about the world being as one wishes it to be but about being within the world as it is. Every time leaders see the possibility of the future spinning out from the present, they are practicing hope.
  • Deciding what to focus on matters. We all frame or perceive people and situations in certain ways. The ability to “reperceive” people and situations is a practice of hope. Deciding what to focus on matters in hope. This choice of focus uses the powerful leadership skill of fully residing with the multiple realities that are at play.
  • Advocating for what you deeply care about is an intrinsic part of hope. Caring is about holding a possible positive future in one’s mind and then driving toward that future, never giving up on the hope that the future will arrive. When leaders deeply care about something, the journey is bearable because the cause, the caring, the systemic shift is so important that it buoys up the hope that change will come, if not today, then possibly tomorrow.
  • Knowing that leadership has a rhythm of growth and loss holds one to hope. Leaders repeatedly begin again and resow, knowing that the wind, rain and sun can be nurturing friends or destructive foes. Recognizing it can be nurtured in the early stages when the outcome is not known; in the journey along the way, where already some things have floundered and some have grown; and in the final outcome, which might be different than planned.
  • The practice of hope in times of change matters. Change is a constant for leaders in all walks of life and is often prompted by crisis, financial or organizational. Leaders need to face what is happening and yet inspire people in order to move toward a better future.

We believe these ideas can progress your leadership development. Hope is a practice in leadership that comes to some easily and for others is a complex and lifelong journey. Like all practices of merit, finding hope takes courage. It seems simplistic to state that it comes from paying attention to the hopeful path, but it is true.


Jeanie Cockell and Joan McArthur-Blair, co-presidents of the leadership consulting firm Cockell McArthur-Blair Consulting, are the co-authors of “Building Resilience with Appreciative Inquiry.” The veteran consultants’ latest book explores how leaders can use the practice of appreciative inquiry to weather the storms they’ll inevitably encounter and be appreciatively resilient.

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