Positive Path Recommended Reading

Hope Happens
By Catherine DeVrye

'A leader is a dealer in hope.' So said Napoleon Bonaparte before his death in 1821. Nearly two centuries later, we need hope more than ever in our organizations and our personal lives.

Have you ever lost an important business deal or contract, or more importantly, lost a loved one or friend? Do lost health or wealth, loss of job or loss of perspective worry you? Whether that loss is temporary or permanent, you need to dig deep for courage to get on with getting on to find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.

When you've lost something that is special in your life, it's important to find hope.

On September 11, 2001, I happened to be addressing the World Airline Entertainment Association. I felt sickened by global events and also by bronchitis, when a friend phoned to say her mother had died of cancer. Certainly, she shared compassion with thousands of people on the other side of the globe, but the loss of one life weighed far heavier on her mind. To her, talk of the 'world changing' was more than a media cliché - the world always changes - but her own life had tumbled and changed irrevocably with the death of the one person who had always been central to her world.

As I sat at the airport, feeling somewhat despondent, I couldn't help but think that, undoubtedly, global tragedy impacts on us all in various ways, from the personal to the economic. Yet, ultimately, the everyday, non-publicized tragedies cause the greatest grief, wherever we live on the globe.

My thoughts were interrupted when a vibrant young woman introduced herself and said she had been inspired by one of my presentations, had since been promoted to London and took only six books with her, including the last one I'd written.

'Whenever I'm feeling down, I delve into that book and magically find just the right words of inspiration and encouragement,' she enthused.

'Oh, what chapter was that? I could do with a little inspiration myself at the moment!' I asked, before smiling at the irony.

Recently, a senior executive who is one of my corporate clients called, ostensibly just to say hello. 'How's things, Bill?' I asked.

'Oh I'm fine', he replied, but something in the tone of his voice implied that he wasn't OK.

'Hmm. You don't sound your normal self.' I ventured.

'Well, uh, my father died this afternoon and I'm feeling kinda flat'.

What a classic understatement I thought, in the same breath wondering why he had called me, rather than one of his close friends or family? I offered words of condolence while we chatted at length, he was emotional but contained and in control as he believed his 'role' dictated. Hours later, I still wondered why he had called me. Then I realized that he was the eldest son, head of his own family, chief of a large corporation and in fulfilling those various roles of leadership, felt that he needed to be perceived as a pillar of strength, unable to show emotion or perceived weakness even though what he was really feeling was not at all weak but a normal human condition of grief.

Yes, it can be lonely at the top (or even in the middle!) and one should never feel too proud to ask for help from others who have walked that rocky road. People often ask how I coped when my folks died when I was 21? What choice did I have? Cope or crumble -- and, I had no intention of crumbling. Since those early dark days, I've been privileged to meet world leaders, sports stars and music icons and was surprised to discover that, at times, they all share the same sense of loss and uncertainty as my next-door neighbor or a stranger on a plane. Behind the facade, no life is perfect and the grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence. It never has been. It never will be.

But, today, and every day, we need to keep our plans and dreams alive and must not allow ourselves to be swamped by nightmares of negativity and despair. Hope helps us to cope with tough times.

Help…others, and never be too proud to ask for help yourself. As an executive your role is to help others help themselves, especially during tough times.

Optimize…opportunities. In every business or personal problem, there is always an opportunity so remain optimistic.

Persist… no matter what. Tough times don't last and tough people do, so never give up, in order to move from a victim of change to a victor of change.

Empower…others and give yourself permission to be empowered to take time out for yourself, as you can't take care of others if you don't take care of yourself.

No matter what the time of the year it is, today is still the first day of the rest of your life, so there's no better time to get some hope happening in your life and in your organization.

About the author: Catherine DeVrye is the author of the #1 best seller 'Good Service is Good Business' and the newly released inspirational gift book 'Hope Happens!…words of encouragement for tough times'. Winner of the Australian Executive Woman of the Year Award, she speaks internationally on managing change, customer service and turning obstacles to opportunities. www.hopehappensnow.com Phone: 61-2-9977-3177. Email: office@greatmotivation.com 

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