October 19, 2015


I had an interesting conversation yesterday with someone I have known for a while. He is a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and probably very determined and focused to get to that level.

He had a look at the flyer for my workshop on Handling Stress and Burnout, which triggered a conversation about emotions.  He told me how content he was with what he has got in his life so far even though he has a physically demanding job, which pays a basic wage.

His comment was “I’m happy with what I’ve got; I don’t need too much, I don’t need to make a lot of money or have a fancy car, and I’ve got enough to get by”. When I asked him what made him so content with such a basic life, he looked at me and said “Well, I don’t need much, I feel happy with just gardening and doing things around the house like building a shed for the garden. It is nice to do something and see a result”.  Out of curiosity I asked him what if he had more money, more opportunities, more options… would that be important for him? The change in his body language and demeanour was a 180 degree turnaround - by just raising that one question.  He then opened up more and talked about his “hopes”, his hope that things will ultimately pick up, work conditions will get better, etc.  As it turns out, when he said he was ‘very happy’ with what he has, translated to ‘I have settled’.

You have possibly heard before that hope is not a strategy. Unfortunately, most people don't understand or go into detail of this particular emotion “Hope”, so here it is. When you hope for something there are one of two scenarios taking place in your head:

  1. Whatever you “hope” will happen is going to happen;

  2. Whatever you “hope” will not happen, is not going to happen.

So where is your focus?

The “hope” emotion stimulates a passive experience for imagined outcomes.

Let me explain it this way, it is like hoping for the traffic to clear. Imagine a truck driver, he would “hope” that the traffic is going to be clear but he could never count on it.

Here, I would ask him to think about using a different emotion - “anticipation”. With “anticipation” he would possibly think in advance, where the traffic jam could possibly be and take action on selecting a different route.

Here is a thought: in going after your goals (even avoiding traffic holdups), you have to anticipate achieving the goals, and then you become active and have a firm outcome in mind. It creates an expectation of achieving the goal.  With hope, you are passive, leaving matters out of your control whereas with anticipation you are taking responsibility and control of the outcome.

This is one of the areas we will work on in the Stress and Burnout workshop. I will be teaching the correct understanding and utilisation of emotion. Click on the link below and we will send you more information on this.

Information on Handling Stress & Burnout