She sits across from me, two fat tears running down her cheeks, sobs emanating deep from her heart. She aches for those in her life that face injustice and feeling unloved. And also she aches a little for those moments in her life where injustice and self-centeredness try to steal her, too. I cry alongside her, for her boundless and beautiful heart.
Another lady sits by my side. She recounts the daily injustices of those around her and most especially, those she experiences. There are no tears, though…Just a dull sense that it is the most she can expect. I can’t prod her into waking up from the daze of getting through, of numbing herself to being alive. And I cry again, deep searing tears, for the pain that is not felt and the life that is being wasted.
The difference between the two is simple and stark: hope. In the first, hope is alive. In the second, it died years ago.
A person who still has hope can feel the pain of others because she believes that life can change. She believes everyone has the right to a bright future and living to their potential. Most importantly, they believe that themselves also deserve a bright future, fully engaged in their life and their work–and that it has meaning.
Tensility’s basic belief is stated like this:
We are a company that believes that the extraordinary is not only possible, but how life should be—both in business life and in personal life. We are not satisfied with ordinary. We expect the extraordinary in how we do business, in how we interact with people, and in the effort we make to give customers what they need.
To live a life with hope, we have to believe that the extraordinary is possible. And then we have to get up every day and live our lives that way.
We have to give up some things, too: cynicism, control, minimization, self-deprecation, fear… None of these have a place in a life with hope. They are sneaky, though, because they are qualities that are often admired, or even confused with humility or being sensible. The danger to thinking like this is that the end destination is apathy and injustice.
Since we spend 8 (or more) hours a day at work, 5 days a week, our workplace is a direct influence on our soul. It can shape our lives for good or for evil. So, we have to choose which we will stand for, and which we want to create. Work should not dull you to life, to feeling for your fellow man, or even to yourself. Work should not be a place to kill off the hope inside you.
That is why we are battling to create a company of hope. And it is indeed a battle. The weapons are simple, but they are not for the faint of heart:
- Follow your inspiration. Don’t put it in a box. Try it out, give it life, and then see how you can combine it with others’ ideas to make it more than where you started.
- Create value. Find ways to use your strengths and inspiration to create value for customers, not just for yourself. Great inspirations often die because they are focused inward, on what we need or want. Look outward and combine your inspiration with value creation.
- Kick insecurity out. We all have triggers that make us retreat into the realm of cynicism, invisibility, or fear. But a company filled with hope has no room for those insecurities. It is based on trusting the best part of you and letting others see you. Where there is insecurity, courage fails us.
- Choose to see the possibilities. The world will tell you your’re foolish. Don’t listen. The world is longing for courageous people to live fully and without cynicism.
As Admiral Jim Stockdale reminds us, we must face the brutal facts before us with an iron will, but believe in a future worth having with a heart as light as a feather. In business, we still need to mind the margins, be sensible with our decisions, and sustain the business into the future. We need plans and we need to clean the toilets. But with light hearts, we can come alive, create value, and live each day in hope.
At Tensility, we want to create a place where each person believes they deserve a bright future fully engaged in what they are bringing to their life and to the company, We want to create a place where we fight against injustice and self-centeredness when we see it. And we want to create a place where we can lead others out of the darkness of apathy and into hope.
Let’s believe in hope, and let’s fight for it. Will you join us?
Art Credit: Collages by Genevieve Gaudreau
Painting: Addie DeLong