We had just spent two days with a very diverse group of participants facilitating a Future Search process and had asked for closing comments. I was struck by two of them:
“I am excited by what we have created and feel hope for our future.”
“If you all follow through on the projects we identified, things might change.”
The second comment struck me as somewhat cynical and it got me thinking about what distinguishes hope from cynicism. As I reflected on how these two people had participated in the two days and thought about other situations, four themes emerged:
Own your part – Hopeful people own their role in situations, both the good and the bad, and don’t look to others to “fix things.” Cynical people only own the good, are oblivious to the bad, and expect others to “fix things” for them.
Assume good intent – Hopeful people trust that others are doing the best they can, while cynical people assume others are out to make their lives miserable.
Accept reality – Hopeful people don’t sugarcoat or assume doom and gloom, they accept current circumstances and don’t wish they were different. Cynical people are always searching for some perfect condition that is different from the current one.
Give – Hopeful people give their time, energy and resources to others without condition. Cynical people wait for others to give to them.
As we approach the holiday season, are you hopeful or cynical? Which of these four areas might hold insight for you?