Optimal (book excerpt): Achievement

The systems for achievement within our culture work well…sort of. We have great schools for education, and we can further our studies through university or college, secure a trade or profession, and insert ourselves into an organization productively. Through a steady stream of income, we can acquire most or all of what our heart might yearn for, and yet there is a continual need for more.

Fulfillment can’t be summed up in abundance. We seem to be perpetually suffering from the law of diminishing return. Our parents longed for indoor plumbing, our kids long for I-Phone’s. No one seems to be more satisfied.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health in the USA, Major Depressive Disorder is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. for ages 15-44. Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. While major depressive disorder can develop at any age, the median age at onset is 32.

Could it be that we have more of what we think we want, but nothing of what we truly need?

Optimal (book excerpt): HOPE

Without hope in the future, there can be no power in the present. Who would have power or energy to put into a task which they knew would be ultimately pointless or futile? By way of example, imagine painting the railing on the Titanic, while it was sinking. Or how about washing your car while it is raining, knowing full well that you will have three miles of gravel road to travel on the way home. Or what about repairing and repainting the “door dings” in the side of the family car knowing that your daughter will park in the student lot at school for another 4 years. People would have to be insane to do such a thing!

A friend of mine tells me that we can live for a few weeks without food; a few days without water; but not a second without hope. The same man tells me that it is the primary responsibility of every leader to foster hope. I believe him, on both counts. Even false hope can serve to keep us alive, but no hope? We need to hope, and it must be in truth.

This statement is also true with moderate rephrasing: “generate hope for the future, and gain power in the present”. Had the Titanic indeed pulled into port on its maiden voyage, you can bet that the deck and railing would have been squeaky clean and sparkling bright. Many would have had this picture in their mind, up until the disaster.

Vision is the depiction of hope. The picture we hold out in our mind can either spur us on to perform on purpose, or bring us to a point of hopeless resignation. The vision we hold must be based in truth, and further it must relate to our foundational purpose, for if it is not, then we are destined for regret.