A Coaching Power Tool created by Wendy Costikyan
(Life Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
Over the past few years, the developed world has endured a major economic crisis which has thrust millions out of work, wiped out trillions of dollars of savings / value and caused many to become homeless. Natural disasters (earthquakes, tidal waves, hurricanes, drought, floods, etc.) have decimated property and populations in all corners of the globe. Wars in many countries continue to cause untold casualties to innocents. Poverty, disease and hunger persist relentlessly. Stories (large and small) of death and suffering continue to be reported day after day. These stories lead the news and seem endless. Despair is a natural emotion to which many can, and will, fall prey to at some point in time.
(the complete loss or absence of hope)
As humans, we can completely understand how despair quickly creeps into our lives when we are faced with circumstances beyond our control or a terrible loss of any kind. Despair is a natural reaction; it arises not only in the face of major loss, but from frustrations or situations that grow and become seemingly intractable. When a person is living in a state of despair, they lose confidence. In the midst of despair, we identify obstacles that seem insurmountable. Being ‘in the depths of despair’, we become discouraged, disheartened, pessimistic and resigned. We see no way out of our situation. Whatever circumstances give rise to despair in our lives, there is one common and unmistakable outcome of despair – inaction.
(a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen)
What happens, however, if we think about hope – if we make ‘hope’ a cornerstone in our lives? Consider the following quotes:
Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.
The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.
Thoughts lead to words, words lead to actions, and hope is the thread that binds up each.
What does ‘having hope’ bring to our lives? As the quotes above so eloquently state, having hope brings confidence, energy and purpose back into our life. It enables us to see possibilities, to move beyond our fears. As the English historian Dame Cicely Wedgwood stated: “..the nature of hope…(is) a defiant desire to make change.” By choosing hope, we choose to expect something different, and through that, one can achieve change.
A true story of hope
Larry William Swilling walks the streets of Anderson, South Carolina, with a sandwich board over his stocky shoulders. “NEED KIDNEY 4 WIFE,” the sign reads. Swilling, 77, hopes to find an organ donor for his wife by asking passers-by to donate their kidneys.
Larry and Jimmy Sue Swilling have been married for 57 years. “She’s my heart,” he said. She was born with only one kidney and after years of kidney disease, that organ has started to fail. No one in the family is a match for a transplant.
Jimmie Sue is on a donor list, but the wait is about two or three years long and that’s for a kidney from a deceased donor. Transplant patients who get their kidneys from living donors tend to live longer.
Which is why Larry decided to try a completely radical approach to securing a kidney: asking for it, from total strangers. “I don’t care what people think,” Larry said. He told his wife, “I’m going to get you a kidney.”
He didn’t really think it would work. But, he said, “I’m trying. I had to do something.”
It was really just a way to not feel helpless, which is why he was as surprised as anyone when the phone rang — rang repeatedly.
Hundreds of people who either saw his sign — or heard about it — volunteered. So far there has been no match, but at this point he’s almost certainly recruited enough volunteers — and raised enough awareness — to save someone.
That’s fine by Jimmie Sue. “If I get a kidney, fine. If I don’t, I hope someone else does,” she said. But it’s not good enough for Larry.
And that’s why Larry is still looking. (CNN 9/12/12 and CBS News 12/28/12)
Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.
The first step to moving out of despair, and into a space of hope, is to think about a previous situation you faced where you felt you had no hope, when you could not see a way out of your trouble or circumstances. What did you do to change that situation? How did you extricate yourself from a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness? Where did you find hope?
Doing nothing did not (and would not) alter your condition. You must have taken some decision, found something positive to focus on, or moved into action of some kind. What was the result of that? Simply by moving forward, you made progress and moved out of despair. As the Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu said, A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Did you find hope by being in action? By identifying something or someone worth loving? By being grateful for something? By changing or letting go of a situation or a belief?
Hope has two beautiful daughters—their names are anger and courage; anger at the way things are, and courage to see that they do not remain the way they are.
Coaches will often encounter clients who are dealing with difficulties that cause them to despair. By recognising that we have all suffered from feelings of despair, a coach can bring powerful empathy to the situation as they support the client in moving from despair to hope. Helping a client to identify ‘where’ they have found hope in the past can support a renewed spirit of hope and positive expectation, and the commitment to move into action. Some questions you could ask your client that might support them in moving towards hope include:
What would having hope look like for you in this situation?
What could you accomplish if you had hope?
What possibilities would you hope for?
What are some other questions you can think of to engender hope for your clients?