Hope, or lack of hope, has been a major theme in the world lately. It's long-known that fear and negativity do not promote action, but rather inaction and even paralysis. Conversely, choosing to have hope is what keeps us going, keeps us pushing, keeps us wanting to embrace the future. Hope is truly vital to the well-being of our society. I've blogged about gratitude and how important that is for our souls and daily happiness; hope is equally important.
Having grown up in the great college town of Ann Arbor, Michigan, one of the institutions that has been a constant source of joy in my culinary life experiences is the iconic Zingerman's Deli. Ari Weinzweig, one of Zingerman's co-founders, has written extensively about the Zingerman's business model and his recommended best practices for growing businesses. Naturally, as an Ann Arbor native as well as a small business owner, Ari's writings are very relevant to me. If I could bring a mere fraction of Ari's business-related wisdom to Gallery Drinkware, I'm ahead of the game. To that end, I recently read an essay from Ari's most recent book, Zingerman's Guide to Good Leading, Part 4: A Lapsed Anarchist's Approach to the Power of Beliefs in Business. This particular piece focuses on the concept of hope and how powerful it is to have hope as it relates to business. Ari writes, "hope is like the sun, which, as we journey towards it, casts the shadow of burden behind us."
Hope in and of itself may seem like sort of a vague term and a vague concept. Afterall, "hope" is something different for everyone. For a child living in a challenging foster home situation, hope may be his/her only buoy on which to grab. For a teenager looking forward to the school dance, hope may be as simple as "I hope my date likes me." For the environmentalist, hope may be the desire for his/her neighbors to finally start conserving water. For the business owner, hope may revolve around not being shut down in six months. But regardless of how profound or banal one's individual hopes may seem, hope is the life-blood that keeps the metaphorical body going. Without hope, the desire to give up is strong. What is there to look forward to without hope? What is there to strive for without hope? With hope, we are willing to challenge ourselves to try new things, to be open to new ideas, to support others who are striving for greatness, to believe that great things are POSSIBLE. And all of those things are vital to a growing business. Ari writes, "Not sure that this emphasis on hope actually makes a difference? Ask around, I doubt you'll find a single person who's doing great work, in any area of activity, who's not already hopeful about the future. Even when difficult days cloud their horizon, hope soon reappears." And furthermore, the hope that these successful folks harbor passes on to others-- their families, their employees, their colleagues, their friends. It's deceptively simple, but hope is one of the keys to success.
It goes without saying that hope isn't only relevant when it comes to business, but to so many things we face in life. One of the aspects of the state of our world that I've blogged about extensively is the environment. Frankly, many of my blogs have revolved around scary, frustrating, and seemingly hopeless environmental problems. And there's no question that we have to talk about and think about the hard stuff-- without acknowledgement of the problem, one cannot seek a solution. But a theme that has also run throughout my environmental blog entries is HOPE for the environment-- great work people are doing to make a change. While hopelessness often paralyzes us, makes us complacent, causes us to give up, hopefulness does the opposite-- it's the wind behind our backs that propels us forward. When it comes to the natural world, the business world, and our personal goals, hope is our engine to strive for better.
I love this piece Ari wrote because it's exactly what I needed to read on this exact day. As we enter a new year, a new presidential administration, and a new transition to Gallery Drinkware, the "secret" is to have hope. I realize more than ever at this juncture that, when either Kenny or I are having a particularly rough day, a "hopeless moment," the other one feeds on it and takes it on, rendering it very difficult for either of us to be productive. But when the other is optimistic, inspired, and hopeful, we both take on that hopeful attitude. It's truly infectious and it can honestly change the course of how a business is run and proceeds. Hope, when combined with hard work (and that's a major point-- hope alone doesn't equate with success, but along with hard work, it's imperative) is what makes the biggest difference in our work and in our lives. As Ari aptly writes, "In the end, organizations without hope are dying. No ecosystem can survive without sun." We at Gallery Drinkware could not agree more.