How could one not be intrigued by the gorilla in a black suit with a red tie? What does author Steven Schussler have to share with us about the entrepreneurial world? A lot. In It’s A Jungle in There, he breaks the book into five sections: personality, product, persistence, people, and philanthropy; all which will be addressed during the next eight weeks of Entrepreneurial Growth. Schussler starts off with four important personality traits to being an entrepreneur: taking risk, having passion, having ambition and the ability to dream. (Schussler) I agree with all of them, yet for me there is one that needs to be added and that is hope. Please no sighs, give me a chance. My sister once said to me “Cece, hope is not a strategy.” We had been talking about something that was related to work with her colleagues. I respectfully disagreed and think hope has a place at the table along with passion, risk taking, dreaming, and ambition. Perhaps even more of a place because hope is realistic and based upon believing things can be better and we make them better. (Robison)
I not so respectfully replied “UNLESS YOU HAVE CANCER;” the tone meant only for a family member or close friend.
For the last six years, as a cancer survivor, if I had to pick the one word to describe how I look at the world and address the complexity of a work life, home life, and family life it is with the beautiful four letter word of hope.
Why do I think hope is as important as risk taking, passion, ambition, and dreaming? Hope is about finding meaning in one’s work. We all spend so much time at work nowadays, shouldn’t it be meaningful? If every person knew how they fit into their company’s vision/mission and how their actions affected a customer, I think the workplace might be a different place altogether.
Hope is knowing that my idea will come to fruition and not because I want it to. Hope knows there is always an outcome even with adversity, challenge, and hardships which can be transcended. Hope is knowing that the idea may have to change and flex with the climate of business and the available resources. Hope for me is knowing that it will work out — it just may not work out exactly as I thought it would. Is that not part of being an entrepreneur? The initial idea brought to the table often needs to be re-worked and re-configured, maybe because of technology or maybe because the demand is not what one thought. Remember, as entrepreneurs we are going to need monies to get us started and to keep us around. If the first time I try to raise capital and they all say ‘no’ do I give up? No, I have a passion to help others with my business, yet it is ‘hope’ that the next person I ask, can sense my ambition, my dream and will invest in me.
I am not the only one that believes that hope has a place in the business world. In a study by Professor Khan on the Impact of Authentic Leaders on Organization Performance, he found that authentic leaders have four tasks within the organization to make a difference: confidence, hope, optimism, and resilience. (Khan) All traits entrepreneurs will need. In this situation, hope is created by the leader to help employees motivate themselves to set and reach goals. Per Dr. Shane Lopez, a hope researcher and author of Making Hope Happen, hope pushes people to be ambitious (one of Shussler’s traits) and successful. It also accounts for 14% productivity in the workplace. This is done by strategizing hope and planning for “what ifs.” (Robison) Another believer in success with a hope strategy is Deborah Mills-Scofield. Of course, it must be used properly. She suggests to make hope part of the strategy by “ 1) base it in fact, not fiction; 2) learn and apply from failures along the way, 3) focus on what’s working instead of what’s broken, and 4) use optimism as your greatest act of rebellion against the naysayers and status quo.” (Mills-Scofield) Solid advice for those on the entrepreneurial journey.
I realize there are many that will think like my sister and say hope is not a strategy and most certainly not a trait an entrepreneur should have. Again, I respectfully disagree. For me hope is about knowing that tomorrow will and can be better than today. If I do not have hope, then what happens to a better tomorrow with my ideas or Schussler’s? I would suggest that Schussler hoped that the world would be better with the addition of his Rain Forest Cafes and the mission behind his dream.
Resources and Links:
Schussler, Steven It’s A Jungle In There. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2010.
Khan, Shahid Nawaz. ”Impact of Authentic Leaders on Organization Performance.” International Journal of Business and Management Vol.5, No.12: 167-172 Canadian Center of Science and Education
Web. Dec. 2010
“Making Hope a Business Strategy.” Gallup.com, Gallup, 2013
Web. 12 Feb. 2013.
“Hope is a Strategy (Well, Sort of).” Hbr.org. Harvard Business Review, 2012.
Web. 9 Oct 2012.