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If You Lose Hope, Look Farther Down the Road

The 23rd Psalm says to walk through the valley of the shadow, not to take up permanent residence

“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


One of the most important things you must do in difficult and challenging times is to nurture your hope.

Hope inspires optimism. But it is not the same thing.

Optimism must have some basis in fact. If I tell you that I’m optimistic the polarization in our nation can be healed in the near future, you could very well ask me to justify that optimism.

But if I say that I hope that polarization can be healed, I do not need to justify that hope with facts on the ground.

One of the most important things that leaders can do is to inspire hope when there is scant optimism. That is what Washington did at Valley Forge, what Florence Nightingale did in the disaster of the Scutari Barrack Hospital, what Martin Luther King did with his “I have a dream” speech.

That is what AA sponsors do for the alcoholic who has hit bottom. It’s what caregivers do for patients who’ve been delivered a dire diagnosis. It’s what parents do for adult children who are struggling with the responsibilities of being an adult.

And it’s what we need to do for ourselves when we are in the valley of the shadow. Let our hope propel us to keep walking.

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