Day68- Transforming Despair into Hope

A light that can spark and spread

October 11th, 2016

Started the day kind of early. Jog, breakfast, social media posts, then class. Today was Leap of Faith, a class that I have REALLY enjoyed thus far, as it is all about exploration of self. Something that I initially thought I wouldn’t need coming into the program, but have benefited tremendously from.

So this morning’s theme was transforming despair into hope. We started by defining hope, talking about the feelings around hope, and what hope communicates. We then broke up into smaller groups to talk about stories of hopelessness to better understand what that looks and feels like, to see if we could pull away any common themes.

What we discovered is that the more you share, the more you accept. And as you accept, that is a process of healing. Calling up your hard times is part of the process of cultivating hope, although that is a bit counterintuitive. Hope appears to have 4 enduring qualities: future-openness (impossible might be possible in the future), relationality (human connectedness), ultimacy (what is this all about?), and generativity (something that moves us). A question that we will explore in our next class is how do we go from hopelessness to hope? Because that is a very valuable skill and asset.

The class ended with a powerful and very memorable story. There were 4 candles in a dark, empty room. The first candle was peace, and peace said “yea, I don’t think people want me, I’ll go away.” The light blew out. The second candle was faith, and faith said “I thought I was important, but people don’t really need me anymore.” The light blew out. The third candle was love, and love said “I thought people loved me, but people don’t seem to care about me anymore.” The light blew out. The door opens. A kid comes in. And says, “hey, 3 of the candles are out!” in a nervous voice. The fourth candle responds, “Hi, I’m hope. We can bring the others back.” I loved this story. It reminds us of the importance of hope. It is something that affects all areas of our life; it underpins so much. Great class.

For the afternoon, I spent much time at Forbes’s cabin. Forbes is another Watson scholar. He invited other students to talk about our mission statements and to provide feedback to one another. I had a really stimulating conversation with Forbes, as he shared with me some of his ideas and philosophies regarding social entrepreneurship, mission, impact evaluation, purpose, and meaning. Below you can read something that he wrote last week, which I find as very profound, poetic even!

Social Entrepreneurship often lacks conscious intention and thus the negative externalities threaten the very communities the entrepreneurs are seeking to support. In it’s essence action without intention is dangerous — in social entrepreneurship we seem to be forgetting to account for the individual in the hope of statistizising impact.

Our increasingly globalizing world is dramatically influenced by a single bottom line economy. Our economy can only be measured in a quantified manner and, as a result, people have become conditioned to believe that there is only one way of keeping score — arithmetically. I believe that human emotion, spirituality, values, ethics, and moral fibre can not be expressed by a word, symbol, or figure, representing a particular quantity. In our desperate need to quantify social and environmental impact, meaning has been lost to the mission.

As social entrepreneurs, creating a quantified value, from a subjective experience, in order to account for impact is dishonest. We seem to be finding ourselves in danger of falling into the very trap we tried to escape. A world where a numerical value meant more than our own humanness. Ralph Waldo Emerson expressed that “Life is a journey, not a destination.” As soon as our meaning is lost to our mission, then we become lost in discovering the destination, rather than experiencing the journey.

If we can not establish the meaning of why we are doing what we are doing and use that as a driving force for passion then perhaps we will lose ourselves in compromising our values in exchange for an arithmetical measurement.

People who are trying to change the world are often dealing with their own traumatic experiences that have significantly influenced their lives. It is paramount that these people look inward to themselves, and understand their own experiences, before projecting potential solutions onto others. We absolutely can not afford to end up in a cyclical cycle based in shame and driven by fear.

Yea, profound ideas huh? I agree with these thoughts completely! And it’s something that I’m coming to terms with and starting to realize with my own work. It starts with the individual. And his or her why. And where that comes from. And why that matters. I think the issues that are raised here really relate with the work that I’m doing. Because entrepreneurs who are pursuing their ventures without intention and clarity of self will ultimately struggle to fulfill their needs and the needs of their customers.

Spent some time in the kitchen with Ian Frank, cutting onions and sweet potatoes to prep lunch. Reminded me that I still need to learn how to cook. Ian was a master. And here I was, still clueless about how to make good meals with real food. I need to work on my patience, and treat the preparation of food as an opportunity for meditation.

After this, met up with Ashley from DreamLab to talk about my experience last Thursday meeting with my mentee and other mentor. We spoke of the importance of connecting human-to-human, rather than focusing so much on the venture itself, which makes a lot of sense since we are working with kids. We also spoke about Ashley’s work at Watson and her work since graduating. Great conversation, glad to have had this time to speak with her 1-on-1.

And lastly, I attended a workshop called “Courage: Facing Fear with Galen Bernard.” A very fitting workshop considering the theme of this past week. In the workshop we did a couple things. First we wrote down two things that we are fearful of that we would not share with others in the room.

Then we matched with a stranger and shared one of those two things if we were comfortable. Surprisingly, my partner and I were comfortable sharing what we wrote down and we connected pretty quickly over these shared fears.

Next, we wrote down 3 things that we fear that we are currently working on now, things that we need help with. Matched up with two other partners and shared the one item that we wanted feedback on. The goal, to have one action item that we could do before the end of the night that would help us in addressing that issue. To simulate an experience that would give us confidence moving forward. Tonight I focused on my fear of public speaking, particularly a pitch event coming up on Thursday night where I will have 60 seconds to pitch my venture. Got lots of good feedback and practiced once in front of my group, which was my action item for the night.

Full day. Another good day. Really enjoying this writing habit. Helps me process things and more fully recognize how lucky I am to be experiencing what I’m experiencing. Right now, in this moment, I have lots of hope : )