Alexander Pope wrote, "Hope springs eternal within the human breast."
While there are many definitions of hope, I believe Dr. Shane Lopez defined it best: "Hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present, along with the belief that you have the power to make it so."
Hope is an internal human desire. It helps us move forward and look to the future with greater confidence. Hope is not some esoteric or philosophical concept -- it is real and measurable. Consider the following:
- A 2016 Gallup Student Poll of 5th-12th grade students in the United States found that hopeful students are 2.8 times more likely to get excellent grades and 2.2 times less likely to miss a lot of school than discouraged students.
- Gallup research has shown that hope for a better future is a crucial component linked to student success in higher education.
- Gallup research also reveals that one of the most powerful questions for employees is whether their companies' leadership made them enthusiastic about the future.
- In Psychology Today, Dr. Dale Archer recounts his experience working with hurricane victims. He found individuals that had a mindset of optimism for the future were better able to move forward with their lives.
The research is clear: hope is essential to our well-being. Strengths coaches offer clients hope about their potential to grow and move their lives forward. Consider leveraging hope when coaching your clients on their talent themes. Regardless of a client's specific talent profile, their strengths are the greatest asset they have to create a better future. Appreciating this possibility, believing in it and maximizing it is a powerful exercise in building hope.
A great resource for this is found in the "Additional Resources" section of Strengths-Based Leadership, which lists the 34 talent themes as well as how each theme can be used to help leaders meet their followers' four basic needs: building trust, showing compassion, providing stability and creating hope. As you examine each theme, you will find a "Create Hope" section with a number of action items or ideas for your coaching. For example, I lead with Learner and Woo. Here are examples of suggested actions for these themes:
- Hope and Learner: Research supports the link between learning and performance. When people have the opportunity to learn and grow, they are more engaged, more productive and loyal. Look for ways to measure whether people feel their learning needs are being met … seeing measurable progress can inspire others to even greater learning goals.
- Hope and Woo: All of your meeting and greeting is sure to produce information that's valuable to others -- information from the customers, superiors and colleagues of those you are trying to help and guide. Wherever you can, spread the good news and not the gossip. Let others know what they're doing well and how they're being perceived.
In addition to the resources in Strengths-Based Leadership, explore the following questions with your clients: How does your client think about the future? What does their best future look like to them? How can their talent themes create a bridge between today and that future?
Season 3 of Gallup's Theme Thursday podcasts provide further insight and focus on each of the four needs through every theme. Download any of these podcasts to further delve into enhancing hope through each of the 34 themes.
"Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies." -- Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption
With the power and science of CliftonStrengths, the solid research around the importance of hope, and the desire to make a difference in every person we coach, strengths coaches can shine a light on what is right and unique about each person. Your strengths coaching is more than helping clients believe the future will be better -- you empower individuals to use their strengths to make a better future. Great strengths coaches give people hope, and hope is indeed "a good thing."