Hope must be cared for, nurtured and protected. Hope stays alive when we steward even the smallest glimpse or the thinnest thread.
An action is required for transformation to happen. Talking about, thinking about, and dreaming about change isn’t enough. Doing something and trying something different creates possibility.
We are not failures. We fall short, we make mistakes, and we can screw stuff up, but we’re never beyond the reach of love and forgiveness. Love wins. Everyone gets a do-over(s).
Aaron McHugh (00:00): Friends, welcome to Work Life Play. I'm your host, Aaron McHugh. I'm here to help you find work you love, learn to play, live adventurously, become curious, and live your life with joy and purpose. Ready, set, go.
Voice of Morgan Freeman (00:33): I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or whole of thought in my head. I think it's the excitement. Only a free man can feel. A free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams.
Aaron McHugh (01:08): Thank you Morgan Freeman for a little intro there From Shawshank Redemption. I hope the Pacific, the ocean is blue as it is in my dreams. I thought it'd be fun if we talk about hope today and how to keep hope alive. How to keep believing in the elusive thing that we can't yet see. But the thing that we most long for, we hope exists. And I thought I'd just riff on a few ideas of what I've found about hope. So I think the first thing is hope can feel like a dangerous thing. Hope can feel like this outstanding, unresolved tension of the place we stand today, the place we'd like to be. And the gap in between and hope is the measurement. The measurement of that distance, that delta, that gap, that ache, that longing. But hope is really a beautiful thing. And for so many of us, hope's the very thing that gets us out of bed in the morning.
And one of the things I heard one day, it was this idea that if Monday and Tuesday equal Wednesday, then very often it just feels unbearable. But if the possibility of Wednesday or maybe even Friday or Sunday or six months from now on a Monday, things could be different, things could be better, then that's that piece of hope. That's the piece that we're longing for, leaning into, hoping that maybe something would be different. Maybe if we just make a little adjustment over here, a little shift, then maybe things could be better. So I wanna talk about this discovery that I've had in my life of how to care for and nurture and protect hope. So I really believe that hope requires stewardship. It requires tending to this dream, this belief, this conviction that requires feeding.
So what comes to mind is, I have a friend of mine right now that went from, I'd call it like maybe a pilot project, to now this global business initiative that he's in charge of and all over the world, his work is now taking place, but it went from this really small, tiny thing in this hope and this dream of what it could be to now this big massive thing. It's like an octopus with eight legs and tentacles everywhere. It's not easy. But the transition from moving from it being a possibility of, well, maybe if we could do this thing, maybe if we could birth this idea, maybe if we tweaked it this way, then maybe it would catch on and then maybe it would be rolled out globally. Well then, now there's a whole host of new challenges to come with it.
But that was a series of, I think it was a two-year long story of just nurturing and holding onto this hope of the big dream. This evening, I'm gonna head out to meet a handful of entrepreneurs and they're enrolled in a accelerator program. I believe there's four different companies and multiple founders each represented, and they're on their early end of stewarding their hope. So one of 'em I know is does some really neat stuff with rural ranchers and the capability of actually checking in on feeding stations in their cattle throughout, but creating the technological capability to monitor what's happening out on the farm without having to physically go drive to each of the locations. So this individual, he's full-time invested in terms of his job. What he does every day is investing in this thread of hope, this proof of concept that they have, working with a number of ranchers in hopes of that becoming a big thing, a disruptive technology that would move its way into how farmers, how ranchers manage their livestock. Massive.
But can you imagine what it's like to be him? Some days waking up in the morning when Monday and Tuesday don't equal Wednesday because every day is probably very, very different. And the exhilaration of the highs and the potential depression of the lows. Now in this case, I'm sure there's probably a lot of highs as they've been accepted. There's an opportunity that they're competing to receive some funding at the end of this program. And it's super rad. But also in just knowing a tidbit, I can imagine that he and the other entrepreneurial stories that are represented there that hope is a really difficult thing to keep alive. And especially when it lacks proof and evidence some days. So I have a friend who is starting a little t-shirt company and for a lot of the years that she's dreamed about creating her own t-shirts, she's had a long list of reasons why not to start.
So I punched out a list to her, sent an email and said, Here's five reasons why you should, and here's the the way you can go get these designs done, throw 'em up on a t-shirt and go for it. But hope is a dangerous thing. Hope is this elusive nurturing feeding the idea, well, it takes action. And I find a lot of times that the action itself, the act of will to cause something that you desire to have happen requires for you to show up and actually do something about it. You've gotta take a step. You've gotta take a move. You've got to check a box, You've gotta follow a hunch. You've gotta spend some money. You've gotta spend some time. And many people I know desire and hope for something, but do it from a passenger bystander point of view, almost as if they're hoping that they win the lottery, but don't even buy a lottery ticket.
Oh, I'd love to win the lottery. Oh, but, I don't play the lottery. Well, it's about as improbable of an occurrence as it is how I watch some people approach what they hope for and what they dream about or supposedly what they dream about. So my friend, she is taking the next brave step, and guess what, That'll be followed by another next brave step. But she is stewarding and nurturing this dream of “I wanna own a t-shirt company of my own designs.” Well, guess what? Guess how it starts, with the very first t-shirt that you come up with. And then guess how it starts with the very first time you sell one to somebody, and then there's another T-shirt, and then you sell some more and you don't need to worry about how to file taxes. You don't know where you need to worry about what your state sales tax rate is until you sell a t-shirt. Worry about that crap later. There's plenty of time for all the worries. But in order to transform the place that you are to the place that you want to be, it requires action.
Failure is a result of interpretation. I really believe that, yeah, we're gonna fall short, we're gonna make mistakes, we're gonna screw some stuff up. But the truth of the matter is, we are never beyond and out of reach of love and forgiveness. And everybody gets do-overs. Everybody gets a try again. Everybody's going to have a mishap. And I find there are very few things on the planet that actually warrant resulting in this terminology of failure. And most of those personally, I believe, would just be more of a decision to be a failure as a person. And I think most people make mistakes. And most people, I would even call it fail, because each of us learn something when we choose to engage our mistakes, our mishaps, our fumbles and bumbles in a way to say, Okay, what did I learn?
What am I gonna do next time different? Can I own my mistakes? Can I say, Yeah, I mucked this up. And I think that as a result of that, it gives us an opportunity to find a way forward. I was on the phone with a friend in a number of years ago. His kids were not speaking to him and they had lots going on in their family. And a lot of of his mistakes became visible and were out from under the secret rug. All those things are out behind the closet where all those skeletons were stored. And at the time it looked like everything was lost. It looked like there was no way this story was gonna have a turnaround. And I remember having conversations with him and I kept telling him, The story's not over yet. It's not done. I'm so sorry for what present circumstances you and they are finding yourselves in right now, and the story isn't over.
So you see time and healing. They take place in partnership together. Time matters. There is such a thing as just time, sometimes time keeping hope alive in a relationship. Time really does help if you allow it to. Sometimes time can be just another excuse for why we become more bitter, disappointed. But oftentimes if we choose to, we can allow for hope to receive the bomb of time and healing. So in his case, the message I received was that slowly as time and healing work in partnership together and new choices have been made, there are some new possibilities that are happening. And there's new life coming back. There's new life coming back to some dead places in my friend's life. And I just got off a call from another friend.
And the number of years he has been on a path of really just bottomed out years ago, bottomed out in a career that really looked like it was gonna skyrocket. And I mean I was certain for him on his behalf. I remember watching on a live webinar, this massive global announcement from a household name company saying, Yes, we're partnering with company X, Y, Z. And it was my friend. He was the CEO. And in a matter of weeks and months, the whole thing just imploded and became scraping the bottom of the barrel and down to auctioning off computers and technology and the bank repossessing all the assets of the company. Well, it’s been a long journey. And we would have these conversations about the concurrent pain in one hand and then the hope in the right hand and holding them both at the same time of the truth of yes, this was what was lost and this is where we were.
And then in the right hand, this faint seed, this tiny seedling grow a bit and it get nurtured and believed in and protected and cared for in the tiniest glimpse of the promise of hope has now grown. And it looks like on the eve of a massive career shift. And the beautiful thing is what qualifies him to be able and capable to move forward in this now evolving, hopeful story is everything he holds in the pain and the loss and the left hand is what has now qualified him for the possibility of the future of the hope that he holds in his right hand.
And that's what his hope's like hope is a dangerous thing because we risk the pain of loss of what if it doesn't happen. And what I found to be incredibly helpful in keeping hope alive is to extend our timelines. And oftentimes I find the timeline I put on things is way too short. And it drives me nuts. I wish it would all happen yesterday, is the honest answer. It just doesn't always work like that. But when we care for things, when we take action steps, when we risk believing, when we dust ourselves up off, get up again and keep going. And when we enable for ourselves to allow for the timeline to be big enough to accommodate the dream, fun things can happen.
But if we keep boxing in our hopes and dreams with a hard timeline, well if it doesn't happen by this date, then I'm gonna be, disappointed, hurt on or what if hope in your right hand, in your present circumstances or the pain or the loss or current reality in your left hand. What if that's just a fluid timeline? And what if we allow ourselves to move forward and constantly know that it's gonna require patience, time, believing, fortitude, grit, inching this thing forward, and just keep being playful and hopeful with the timeline. Keep extending it. On my right at my desk here, I have a couple things written up in poster, and on one of them
I started going through and just writing on who do I know, who do I know and who do they know? What do they connect to? And, I started writing dates and times of when I emailed them when I called them. So it's just to me a visual reminder, like keep it in front of me. I find when I put things on my computer, they're easy to get lost. So the things that are most important to me, I really focus on visually by seeing in front of me every day. So I ended up putting a sheet over top of it. And interestingly enough, the work that I'm now doing for these two different consulting companies and Work Life Play and everything else that's come to be the irony, is it, it's actually all on this dream board. But it was all super sketchy rough notes.
And there are things like, what am I good at? There are things like, what value do I bring to an organization? It was a disc test I took. So I cut it out, snipped it out, put it on this list. One of them is what's the ideal environment that I should be in? One of them is a picture of my now boss. So I printed out his mugshot, his executive profile and cut it out, put it on my board and stare at the guy's face and in my case, pray for him and say, Okay, as conversations that we were having or things that were going on, I was just leaning into these stories. Guy who's my coach today, Doug, his name's up here, my book agent his name was up here. A number of other folks that ended up as I chased these leads that I went down these trails and passed and there wasn't anything there.
But if it wasn't for this board, I wouldn't have had a plan. I wouldn't have had this, what-if scenario basically that I was running and plural scenarios. But I put on top of it, focus on the things I can control and expand my influence cuz everything below it on the actual dream board itself, this vision board strategy guide, I couldn't control any of it. The only thing I could control was my actions and I could control holding on and stewarding the hope that was in my hand. So I had to remind myself on the things I can control, what can I actually control? And I believe there's a difference between control and influence. And on a later podcast we'll talk more about that. But within my control, I can expand the influence I have by the work that I'm doing well to the right of it, I created my big call it 90 day view of what I want to do. And going back to this last point about having a big enough time to hold the dream, it turns out it wasn't a big enough timeline, but across the top I wrote, I want six new coaching clients for within my Work Life Play work. So big checkbox across that one. Then I put the dates and times of when these were actually accomplished. Then I put, I wanna do three live Work Life Play events. So I knock those off and accomplish those sometime in March. I think right now I still have an open item on it that's a podcast sponsorship I would really like to, and I have some ideas on it that will actually even include you in of the biggest prohibitor I have in publishing podcast content is all the post-production work.
Well that takes time and money and I could find a way through the time and I'd love to have sponsorship to actually fund the production. So I could probably do two to five times more episode production and just have that be off my plate, out of my view. Just send it to someone else, have them own it all the way through to completion and distribution. So that one's a pending one. So on a date, I'd love to be there by August. I'd love to be fully funded for 2019 for podcast sponsorships and through the rest of 2018. So that's one that, I'm holding out this hope, this thread we'll see on timeline what I have to do. Well, book deal was another one, and on the book deal was one thing I put up earlier in the year and I just signed a contract with the publisher last week to write a book that I'll be delivering right after Christmas, at the end of the year.
So to remind me, one other item I have up here is three adventure Work Life Play trips before the end of 2019. So I've had to punt that one down the road a little bit. I started that back in April to see about taking some trips in May and June ran into some challenges and realize it's a perfect dream. It's a great idea. And you, my friends listeners, a number of you have said, Yeah, I wanna join you on that. I wanna go on a bus trip with you. Yeah, I wanna bring my wife and we'll go to do some cool stuff and some adventure stuff, some content connection stuff. But I just need to relocate the timelines for that to be able to accommodate the dream.
All of this is about keeping hope alive. How do you keep hope alive? So our friend opened us, Red from Shashank Redemption is on his way after leaving Shashank prison, after being incarcerated for some 30 plus years was on his way to meet his buddy Andy. And Andy had already escaped and said, Hey, if you ever find your play your way out of here, go find that rock. It's a rock that doesn't belong there. It's buried along a stone wall. It's in the middle of Missouri, Kentucky, wherever it was. And it's below a favorite tree, that I spent my favorite day I spent with my wife there. Go find that rock and there'll be something waiting there for you.
And so he wrote him a special note, gave him some pocket cash and traveling money and said, Hey, remember that place we talked about? Yeah, this is Watson Mayo. And so that quote, that audio that you be, that you heard was as Red was boarding the Greyhound bus to ride his way to the border of Texas so he could cross over to Mexico and go find his buddy Andy in Zihuatanejo and saying, I hope that Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. So you, my friends, as you hold your current situation, where you are today, what you're up to, what you're doing in your left hand, and the hope and the promise, the what if, the possibility, the thread of something being different, something being better, something being new. I hope you'll be willing to nurture it, protect it, take action steps toward it, to feed it, to keep even the thinness of threads alive. And I hope that it will be as blue in the end as it has been in your dreams. Keep going. You can do this.
You've been listening to Work Life Play. If you like what you've heard, please do us a favor and rate us on iTunes. It really does help. You can get more information about this in other episodes at aaronmchugh.com. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being part of this adventure, for being part of braving the pioneering work of discovering sustainable Work Life Play rhythms.
Love your work, live your life, and play a whole lot more. I'm Aaron McHugh. Keep going.
*We’ve done our best for this transcription to accurately reflect the conversation. Errors are possible. Thank you for your patience and grace if you find errors that our team missed.
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