Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Choose Hope over Fear

On inauguration day, “we gather because we have chosen hope over fear...” This choice between hope and fear requires us to power up our new brain and to override our ancient instincts. Hope is intentional; fear is automatic. Choosing hope is hard work that never lets up. Fear just happens, it runs amok, and we need to corral it.

Fear fuels our lives, yet strangely it keeps us right where we were, sometimes running in small circles. Fear can be used better. The days of our lives will never be without fear. We must learn to manage it.

Now, hope, as our science has demonstrated and folks have started to believe, can be chosen and converted into a fuel for change. Some might say that this energy is not as powerful and reliable. They are dead wrong. Hope is potent, plentiful, and faithful. We need to learn to master hope once we make it our default.

We choose hope and nudge the hell out of it to create better lives for ourselves and others. We must learn to make fear work for us, to keep us safe, but not too safe. In time, we will realize that hope and fear can work together and modern humans have been, and always will be, hope-fear hybrids.

Master hope. Manage fear. Go hybrid.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Hope: Taking the Blinders Off

Hope and fear are both necessary in modern life, but they operate very, very differently. Fear is associated with signals from one of the oldest parts of our brains, the amygdala. When we experience threat, the amygdala initiates a process that helps generate the physical resources we need to kick ass or make tracks. We have few other options when we are fearful; we behave as if we have blinders on.

No creativity comes out of fear; we just don't see options when we are fearful. When fear does its job, we escape that which makes us fearful. This fear response is exhausting and it comes with a host of negative emotional and physical consequences.

Hope is wired in the youngest part of our brain, the prefrontal cortex. When we attach ourselves to the future through a goal that matters to us, our new brain tells us to reach out, find more resources, get some support. Hope effectively takes the blinders off and helps us see chance and opportunity.

Innovation comes out of hope; we create something out of nothing then tweak, tweak, tweak until it works just right. Hope works because it broadens our thinking and because it fuels persistence. Big thinking without sticktoitiveness is not hoping, it is wishing.

Now, take the blinders off. Use your new brain.