Just the right amount of hope


Looking out to the future – sculpture on the Malecon, La Paz, BCS Photo: HH

Last week – on my final day of full time work actually – I happened to catch the end of a Radio 4 programme entitled “The Art of Now”.  This episode was actually about the art produced by detainees in Guantanamo Bay whilst in detention.

Artist Mansoor Adayfi concluded – “We live in hope actually:  too much hope it has an effect, because if you hope too much you’ll be devastated, you’ll get depressed.  No hope at all, people end up taking their lives.  So that’s what kept us going there.

These thoughts – in a less extreme form –  also struck me as being entirely pertinent to my setting out on a new business venture.

Hearing that quote also reminded me that inspiration is all around:  I went for a drink to celebrate my last day at work.  Our waitress (Janae) asked if we were celebrating something.  As I explained I also mentioned the danger of too much hope.  “Oh I see,” she replied, nailing the thing in just one sentence, “what you need is optimism and realism”.

It would be very easy for me to be wildly optimistic about the new business:  to have giddy daydreams of fame and fortune just dropping in my lap.   “This is going to be great – my income will double, all I need is a website and Twitter feed!”  Such thoughts are bound to disappoint in the long run – they are not grounded in reality.

On the flip side, fear can creep in:  “Who really makes a living doing this?  Surely I’d be better off finding another job.  I know this offer isn’t really paying properly but I’ll do it rather than do nothing.” And fear leads to poor decisions and actions caused by panic.

It strikes me that what is required to set about a new venture (business, hobby, sporting challenge, academic exercise) is *just the right amount* of hope:  that people make their own luck, that hard work and preparation are key to success and that there will be setbacks and failure. Optimism breeds hardiness, the ability to, as Jerome Kern song goes, “pick yourself up, dust yourself off, start all over again.”

So, it is with these twin thoughts that, like the old man in sculpture on the Malecon, I set out on my paper boat “made of a page where I wrote my dreams“.



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