Possibility Thinking

Impossibility thinking comes from a place of fear and a lack of Faith. Possibility thinking comes from a place of love and a fundamental belief that all things work together for good.

I’m curious to know…

Expanding on the theme of dreams and miracles, are you driven more by your fears or your Faith? Despite the inevitable heartache and hardships that are part of any life journey, do you believe that all things work together for good or that you are simply a victim of life’s circumstances? In the larger context of the world we currently live in, what role can possibility thinking play in creating meaningful solutions to complex problems? What role does possibility thinking look like in your own life?

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The Possibilities of Hope

Over the past few months, I’ve been busy interviewing a wonderful group of young women — survivors of human trafficking who have each successfully transitioned out of ‘the life’ and are making positive strides towards a purpose-filled future.

In each of our conversations I asked them not only about their dreams, but what hope means to them and the role it has and continues to play in helping them navigate their own path forward. Their answers varied, though significantly, each of them held steadfast to the belief that their life would not change by waiting passively to be ‘rescued’, but rather, would require a willingness to actively take ownership of their own choices, moment-by-moment, day-by-day.

I have not walked in their shoes, though I admire their courage, resiliency and willingness to be accountable for their own choices and outcomes. As I reflected on our conversations, it got me thinking some more about hope and the role it plays in helping each of us move through times struggle, loss, transition or uncertainty.

The concept of ‘hope’ is often misunderstood and expressed as some platitude or affirmation that is supposed to magically transform our lives. But hope is more than passive, wishful thinking. At it’s core, hope is about possibility thinking — an active way of seeing, being and doing.

It’s understanding that while life can be difficult, filled with trials and tribulations that test us along the way, it is always changing. Where we are today, no matter how challenging the circumstances, will most assuredly be different that where we are tomorrow, next week or next year.

Hope Says

More than passively relying on extrinsic events to change our circumstance, hope is not only moving forward in faith and believing in the possibility for a better outcome when we are in a season of sorrow or difficulty, but having enough courage and confidence in the value of our dreams and vision for the future that we are willing to commit ourselves to doing the intrinsic work necessary to realize a different outcome. Whether from a Christian or secular perspective, it’s faith in action — taking steps to advance ourselves forward, while staying open to new possibilities along the way — an idea that in and of itself, gives me hope!

I’m curious to know…

What does hope mean to you? What is the relationship in your own life between faith and hope? How can taking responsibility for your own choices and outcomes enable you to shift from a mindset of ‘hopelessness’ to hopeful, even under the most difficult of circumstances?

Wednesday Wisdom

 
Possibility Thinking

“Hope”

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Note: This poem was selected for inclusion in a second edition of Inspiring Hope: One Story at a Time, to be released in late 2014. This second edition, compiled by Gary Doi, features a collection of stories, poems, art and photography that each represent various themes on the subject of hope. Net proceeds from the sale of these books benefit the Asturias Academy Library in Xela, Guatemala.

Click on the video below to see excerpts from the first book on hope in the series:

What Gives You Hope?

I believe in the power of hope.

Just as purpose provides a sense of meaning and direction in our lives, hope, like faith, enables possibility and the strength to endure, without which we cannot live. An essential ingredient in resiliency, to be hopeful is to not only believe in our capacity to overcome, but to open ourselves to new possibilities in the future. Hope expectantly empowers, engages, emboldens and encourages. A gift to ourselves and others, hope helps pave the path to our collective potential.

But where do we find hope? How can we cultivate it within ourselves? How can we share it with others?

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all. -Emily Dickinson

Recognizing the power of stories to inspire, uplift, engage and empower, Gary Doi, a retired school superintendent in British Columbia, recently brought together 42 VIPs (very interesting people) from different parts to the world to create a stimulating anthology of startlingly honest stories focused on the eternal question: What gives you hope?

Inspiring Hope, One Story at a Time“The stories are as varied and compelling as life itself,” said Doi. “They stir the imagination, ignite your courage and invite reflection. They inspire hope. In today’s world, that’s a resource in short supply. Yet, we can’t live life without it.”

Doi believes that hope creates resilience which in turn provides the strength to face life’s many challenges. Examples from the book include a California mother who shares her heartfelt story about raising an autistic child and how that experience brought fulfillment, love and gratitude. A teacher in Dubai describes how her bucket-list adventures opened up fascinating opportunities to learn and discover. A retirement coach from the United Kingdom explores a common question facing retirees: What will you do with the rest of your life? And, a university professor writes about the heroic efforts of a sixteen-year-old student in Tokyo who mobilizes community members to raise funds for a small fishing village affected by the Tohoku Earthquake disaster.

A global book launch is scheduled for November 25 – December 13, 2013 with various events and activities to draw attention to the book and its cause. All net proceeds from book sales will be donated to provide resources for the Asturias Academy Library in Xela, Guatemala, a private, non-profit pre K-12 school serving vulnerable students in the community.

Books are available as a hard copy or ebook at Amazon.com (ca/uk).

A second book in the series (Inspiring Hope: One Image at a Time) is planned for next year. It will feature inspirational photographs, artwork and stories from around the world.

Note: For those who are regular followers of this blog, I am pleased and honored to share that two of my posts, George the Cabbie and Clearing Out the Weeds (In the Garden of Our Life) were selected for inclusion in this wonderful book on hope. I hope you’ll consider spreading  a dollop of hope by purchasing your own copy today!

Changing Our Narrative

How many times do you find yourself describing your present in terms of where you’ve been in the past?  “I’m here because of what happened when I was there.”  “I’m doing this because that happened before.”

There is nothing wrong with providing context for our stories, our choices, and our lives, but too often we limit, diminish and devalue our present by the stories we tell about our past. Perhaps we focus on the challenge, instead of the growth or opportunity that arose from it. Perhaps we dwell on our limitations, instead of creatively carving new paths to follow.

The truth is, we all have stories from our past that have influenced our present.

We all have had moments that perhaps challenged us, frightened us, or angered us.  At a certain point in life, It is likely we have all known the sting of betrayal or pain and suffering from loss, too.

But it is often in the grit of life that we find its beauty. Moments of growth, joy, abundance and love. Moments of hope, sprung from despair; compassion from suffering; or forgiveness from betrayal.

Too often we limit, diminish and devalue our present by the stories we tell about our past.

In each of these moments, the narrative we choose has the power to shift us from victim to empowered; from hopeless to hopeful.  In each of these moments, the narrative we choose has the power to influence our present and shape our future.

The next time you catch yourself wallowing in the past or feeling trapped in the present, set an intention for a different outcome. Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Adjust your lens, reframe your story, and change your narrative.

I’m curious…

How many times have YOU found yourself describing your present in terms of where you’ve been in your past? What is the attitude and tone of your narrative? Hopeful or helpless; empowered or dis-empowered? How do you reframe past challenges to create opportunities for new growth?

George the Cabbie: A Tale of Customer Service

Every now and then, a stranger crosses our path, sometimes just for a mere moment, and we catch a glimpse of greatness.  We catch a glimpse of what it means to serve others with a glad heart, a lively spirit, and personal integrity.  We catch someone ‘getting it right’ and we want to share their story.  So it is with George the cabbie.

I met George last weekend in Orlando, while standing in line outside my hotel, waiting to catch the bus that ran between the hotel and convention center.  Buses ran every thirty minutes, and all of us standing in line were anxious to arrive in time to hear the morning keynote speaker, Marcus Buckingham.  The bus came, picked up five people, then announced it was full, pulling away and leaving the rest of us waiting in earnest for another bus.  Impatiently, I turned to my new friend, Lorin, and asked if she wanted to grab a taxi instead.  She agreed and within seconds, we were joined by Peter from Japan and Jan from Belgium.

Quickly we piled into the nearby town car, my leg still hanging slightly out the door on the verge of doing a slight split, when the driver, George, started to pull away.  We were nonetheless greeted with a smile when George jokingly assured me he had insurance, just in case I needed it.  We were off, and in the span of a less-than-five-minute drive, we had all managed to introduce ourselves and pass out cards, including George.  Without being pushy, George also managed to pass around a spiral notebook in which he asked us to write our name, number, and when our departure flight was.

At this point, I had been collecting cabbie cards throughout the previous few days, including one from Samuel, who shared stories of his hurricane-wrecked home, Haiti, various relief efforts, and his perception of the Americans who have extended a hand to help rebuild.  “Who” he asked, “comes and serves others so selflessly, and with such love and generosity?  People don’t do that much anymore, but your people do.”  I liked Samuel, and though George was courteous and entertaining, I wasn’t ready to commit my transportation needs to him.  Instead, I politely filled in my name and number, telling George that while I was leaving the next day, I wasn’t prepared to make firm plans.

Departure day:

Eating an early breakfast with my girlfriend, I remembered that I had not yet made taxi arrangements, though I was scheduled to fly out just before noon.  I quickly retrieved Samuel’s card and dialed his number, to no avail.   Hmmm.  What other cards had I saved?  Before I could even look for another number, my phone rang.  It was George.  “Good morning, Ms. Reed.  I remembered you were flying home today and wondered if you have already made transportation arrangements, and if not, if I could be of service to you?”  “Absolutely,” I exclaimed, and proceeded to give him instructions for picking me up outside of the convention center at 9:45 a.m.  He reconfirmed the time and promised to call me at 9:40 a.m. to let me know he was five minutes out.

9:40 a.m.

My phone rings, though I missed the call because I still had my phone on silent.  I listen to the message.  It’s George.  “Hi, Ms. Reed.  It’s George.  I apologize, but I am running five minutes late.  I realize that there is a line of cabs outside of the convention center, but I’m asking if you will please wait for me.  I have confirmed with the airport that the lines are short and the traffic is light.  I promise you will get there in plenty of time.”  I called him back and agreed to wait for him.  He recommended that I wait inside where it was cool, and promised to call when he was within one minute of arriving.  And so he did.

He told me on the way to the airport that most people would not have waited for him, and he greatly appreciated my willingness to do so.  I admit that I took a chance, and for a brief moment while I was waiting for him to arrive, I wondered to myself:  should I trust his word?  If I’m wrong, I will miss my flight and it will cost me hundreds of dollars and a great deal of wasted time.  But if he’s being honest, then I want to deliver on my end of the deal.  I won’t sell him out to someone who hasn’t earned the business.  Sometimes, amazing things can happen when you take a leap of faith.  Even on the little things.  Like a cab ride to the airport.  As he pulled up to the airport, he reminded me to stay safe, gave me a big hug and bid me a pleasant farewell.

End of the story?  Not quite…

True to his word, the lines were short and I had plenty of time before my flight took off.  Feet sore from three days of walking endlessly around in high heels, I got to my gate, dropped my bags, took off my shoes, and breathed a sigh of exhaustion.   Just then, my phone buzzed, indicating a text had arrived.  From George.  “Hi!  This is George.  I just wanted to wish you a safe trip home.”

A chance encounter.  A random cab.  An unknown driver.  Four initial passengers.  At least two repeat passengers (and loyal passengers for life).  One referral passenger.   As I picked up the last text from George, I smiled deeply and thought to myself, “George gets it.”  Life is so much more than just an exchange of goods and services.  At it’s heart, life is about people.  It’s about connections.  It’s about service.  It’s about living, leading and serving from the heart.

Postscript:

For those of you who took the time to read the tale of George the cabbie, I
thank you. To my surprise, it proved to be the most popular post I have written
to this blog. Perhaps it’s because it was a post celebrating another – catching someone doing something right. Perhaps it’s because customer service, like personal accountibility, is eroding in a world where people have become commodities, bought and sold to the highest bidder (or to the next cabbie in line). Perhaps it’s because in this age
of technology, people still crave personal connection and want to believe in the
word of another. At the end of the day, we all need affirmation that doing what
is right is…well…right.

If you read closely, you saw that the tale of George was more than
just a tale of excellent customer service. It was also a tale of personal
integrity. George could have made different choices. He could have chosen not to
call me to tell me he was running late, afraid that I might catch a different
cab instead, disregarding my schedule and how I might feel about having been
kept waiting. He could have been selling me a line about the light traffic and
lines at the airport, willing to say whatever might create the sale, though he
proved to be telling me the truth. Likewise, I could have chosen not to trust
George’s word and/or hung George out to dry and caught one of the cabs outside
when I first learned he was running late. No one would have blamed either one of
us, and many would call me naive for trusting my flight to the word of a cabbie.
Still, it is the everyday little choices we make – to trust or not, to tell the
truth or not, to do what’s right or not, that add up and ultimately shape one’s
character.