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King of Wishful Thinking

In 1977, a hallmark movie captured my imagination.  Star Wars made its debut and was a global blockbuster.  George Lucas could likely not grasp the extent this one movie would make for years to come.  It is a cultural movement and its roots go deep.  And it started with one movie, subtitled “A New Hope.”

As a Star Wars aficionado, the battle for good took hold early on in life.  Rooting for the good guys made sense.  Add to it the power of the force and you had a winning team, however ragtag they might be.  And while Luke Skywalker and Han Solo had flaws to work through, Princess Leia proved to be a more complicated character.  Through the course of the franchise, she’s led the rebellion with strength, dealt with finding her real brother with love, and experienced the power of the force with openness.  She is every bit a hero as Luke, Han, Chewy, Obi Wan and the rest.  There was never a question that she would be.

That’s part of the beauty of Star Wars.  Each individual is looked at for what he/she brings to bear to fight for what’s right.  Whether human, droid, wookie, etc., did not matter.  What you can do is what mattered.

There is an intention of great hope in that position.  People rise to meet such an expectation when the context is hopeful.  The strength found just by hearing the word “hope” is palpable.  You can touch and feel its presence.  And more powerfully, there is a strong wind that pours over a room when it’s believed (the force, perhaps?).

Think about the power you have to bring hope to a situation.  It takes just a few sentences and an affirmational action to change the tide of a conversation or conflict.  It is easy to be tired of it all and to relent to the downward spiral of negativity and blame.  Just take inventory of the residuals from the last few conflicts you’ve been a part of at work, home or elsewhere.  What did you reap?  Was it hopeful?

Conflict isn’t the enemy if it leads to healthy outcomes.  Just as characters in a book or movie are developed through tension, so too are you, me and our teammates.  Growing from difficulty can deepen our resolve to succeed, our willingness to try harder and our inspiration to explore new avenues of thought and development.  Those are all very positive; the trick is to instill hope in the midst of it.

When we think the conflict is the finish, we lose out on all of those possibilities.  And we know it.  That’s why movies like Star Wars draw us in.  We want to believe in the possibilities.  We grow warm in our souls as we watch the heroes defeat evil and establish something better.  The ideals win.

And it’s important to note that this isn’t wishful thinking.  There is a great difference between a wish and a hope, though they are commonly used interchangeably.   A wish is fantasy, something not likely to occur, like winning Powerball or MegaMillions (I wish for this daily…).  A hope is something we can see happening for real.  There is a great possibility of it happening.

In business, I hear the phrase, “I hope so” regularly when we speak about what could be.  However, the intention behind it is usually more of a wish.  We don’t really think it can happen.  And the moment we think that, it’s not likely to occur, or at the very least, we won’t be a part of it coming together.  Hope inspires us to action to ensure the success of our intention.  A wish keeps us sitting at the windowsill looking up at the stars in fanciful delirium.

I will miss Carrie Fisher portraying Princess Leia for more years to come, but the princess has given us a call to action that lives on.  “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.”  She had no idea who he really was and what he could do, but her call to action brought that old man out of seclusion and into battle.  Do the same.  Call on those around you to jump on board by sharing a vision for what will be and leading the mission to its achievement.

It is a reality.  We can live in hope.  We are that hope.

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