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Many people think they know what hope is, but if you’ve ever been in a truly desperate situation you may understand that it can be more complicated and difficult than you once thought to have hope.

In this episode, Dr. Rick explains how the language you use can destroy your hope, how to restore hope in your darkest time, and the one action you absolutely must take to achieve what you hope for most.

Show Highlights Include:

  • How the language you use cheapens the power of hope (2:38)
  • A definition that will help you understand hope better than ever before (5:09)
  • Without this, your hopes will continue to go unfulfilled (7:59)
  • These common misconceptions about hope can destroy your life (2:29)

Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Click here to get the first chapter of Dr. Rick’s best-selling book, Lessons From a Third Grade Dropout, for free.

Read Full Transcript

Welcome to “How You Living?” a transformative podcast featuring best-selling author, inspirational speaker and minister, Dr. Rick Rigsby. And, now, Dr. Rick.

Dr. Rigsby: Hello, friends. Welcome to this week's podcast. I'm so glad that you've made an opportunity to tune in. I want to talk to you about hope. More specifically, I want to talk to you about the power of hope.

Now, in order for me to set the stage, let me go back a couple of years to 2017. That's when I was finishing up my book, Afraid to Hope, and this book captures the darkest season of my life. My first wife and the mother of our two little boys died of breast cancer 24 years ago, and her death resulted in just a horrific season in our lives, just devastation and loss, and grief and despair. [01:10.1]

We were at rock bottom and we couldn't see any hope whatsoever, and I talk about how it was my desire to try to go on if I could, so I would look for hope. My problem was I was looking externally for hope. I was looking anywhere I could to find some sense of hope, some glimmer of hope, and I just felt hopeless.

Yet, in the back of my mind, I could hear my father's voice with a piercing familiarity all throughout my childhood saying, “Son, don't ever lose hope. Make sure that all your life, you have hope. And I'm thinking during this time, I'm having a hard time locating that hope.” And so, I started writing this book and I started talking about how I went from being hopeless to discovering that hope was always inside of me, that I just had to realize that I needed to connect to it. [02:06.6]

That's a powerful thought. That hope was always residing in me, but I had to reconnect to the hope. And so, in the early stages of the book, I talk about what hope is not. For example, hope is not a fleeting thought. Hope is not wish fulfillment.

Hope is not just a casual rendition of what we like to see, but because of the casualness of our language, we have neutered the power out of hope and we've reduced it to the basement of human language. We say things like, Well, I hope it doesn't rain, or I hope I get the parking spot. And I think because of the casualness of the language, I was searching for something that I thought should have been far more significant, but it wasn't and it wasn't there. At least, I wasn't connecting to it.
And so, I finished the book and I was so blessed that the book was received, but there's always criticism. In fact, I can hear some business people saying, Well, Rick, it's a good book, but just remember this. Hope is not a strategy. [03:13.5]
And that stung. That stung for a while. I took it personally.

Fast forward a couple of years, I have had a reversal in thinking. I totally agree with them. I agree with the criticism. I completely agree. Hope is not a strategy. Hope is more powerful than a strategy.

Come on, y'all. A strategy is a plan. Hope is a belief, and so hope is far more significant than something that can change at the drop of a hat. It is more powerful than just a plan that you draw up.

Hope is even more powerful than optimism. Optimism is important. Optimism is good, but optimism is a feeling and a feeling can be fleeting. Optimism is the feeling that things might get better, whereas hope is an expected behavior that together we are going to make it through. It is having faith. Hope requires faith. It is the faith that somehow I am going to get through this obstacle, right? [04:22.3]

Hope is a virtue. Hope is something that is with insight that has the potential to transform. I mean, think about the definition of a virtue. It is behavior that produces the quality of outstanding behavior, the highest moral standard.

And so, I'm thinking as I'm writing this book, Whoa, hope is more than just a fleeting thought. It's more than just wish fulfillment. Hope is active. Hope is vibrant. Hope is passionate. Hope is transformative. Hope is dynamic, and it caused me to come up with this definition of hope. [05:04.7]

It is a quality within every human spirit that places a transformative demand upon the heart to believe for the absolute best outcome. That's active. That's powerful. That's transformative. Listen to what Helen Keller said on one occasion: “Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible, achieves the impossible.”

Friend, that's not wish fulfillment. That is certainly not a feeling. That is something far more powerful. And if we can just realize that it resides in every single one of us, and if we can just realize it doesn't just reside there, but it's a virtue that places a transformative demand up on us to believe for the absolute best outcome.

So, now I tell leadership people, I tell businesses, Yes, I agree, hope is not a strategy. However, I don't want a boss who's not filled with hope. I don't want an airplane pilot who's not filled with hope. [06:11.5]

Come on, somebody. I don't want to be a part of an organization where the leadership is not hopeful. I don't want to be in a family where there's no hope. In fact, you can't lead without hope. You can't even live without hope. You will merely exist, retard and die.

I want to tell you something. Hope requires courage. You have to muster the courage to make a choice, to place a demand upon your heart to believe for a better outcome than your current reality. Hope requires courage. It was Winston Churchill who said, fear is a reaction; courage is a choice. Hope doesn't just require courage, but hope requires faith.

One of the greatest motivational speakers of our day is Les Brown. He is absolutely awesome. Listen to what Les Brown said. He said, “Faith is the oil that takes the friction out of life.” [07:13.2]

Hope requires faith. As a matter of fact, hope is the prerequisite for faith. Where did you get that, Rick? Think about what the Holy Scripture says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for.” Faith is the substance of things that you're hoping for. You can't have faith unless you first are hoping, having hope, and that’s really important.

So, faith requires courage, or rather I should say, hope requires courage. Hope requires faith. But there's also something else that hope requires. Hope requires an immediate and decisive response.

Ho-ho, baby. Here's the turning point right here. It requires you to make a choice. Remember my definition? Hope is a quality. It's a virtue within every one of our spirits, within every one of us, that places a transformative demand up on our hearts to believe for the absolute best outcome. [08:20.5]

Rick, what are you saying? Hope demands an immediate and decisive response. Let me give you an illustration. For years, I was privileged to be on the football coaching staff at Texas A&M. I was hired by legendary coach R.C. Slocum. What a great, great coach and a dear friend to this very day. And I was the team's chaplain and life skills coach, a character coach, if you will, and I recall playing in the big 12 championship game in 1998.

We were playing against the red hot Kansas state football team. They were ranked number one in the coaches poll in the nation. If they won this game this particular day, they would go on and play in the national championship game, and we were losing to them decidedly in the first half. [09:06.8]

We’d go in at halftime and Coach Slocum who gives great speeches just went to a whole different level. Now, I will tell you what he said, but get the spirit of what he said. Coach Slocum, he demanded an immediate and decisive response, not just for the players, not just for those playing the game, but for the coaches and even for the staff.

Coach locum demanded an immediate and decisive response. He placed a demand, a transformative demand upon us to start believing for the absolute best outcome in the second half—don't just go out and play the game. Don't look at the scoreboard. Just play the next play with this expected belief that you are going to overcome. By the way, friends, we won that game 36–33 in double overtime. [10:04.7]

It was because we really executed that second half, but make no mistake about it—that execution was fueled by, motivated by this expectation that we actually believed that we were going to exceed at the highest level. That's what hope does. Hope transforms your thinking. Hope challenges the existing status quo. Hope places that kind of transformative demand upon you where you are believing the absolute best outcome regardless of what you see. In fact, Coach Slocum said, “Don't look at the scoreboard. Just play the next play.” That's the power of hope, friend, and that power is available to every single one of us.
I was afraid to hope during that season 24 years ago and I didn't want to hope. And yet my father at the casket demanded an immediate and decisive response with three words: “Son, just stand.” [11:12.2]

“Son, just stand.” Translation: Son, I'm going to give you a choice. You can stand and keep going or you can bail out. You can quit. You can disappear. You can go through the motions.

You see, hope requires courage. I had to develop the courage to make a choice. Hope requires faith. I had to have faith that, regardless of what I saw before me, even regardless of how I felt, I had to believe for the absolute best outcome, and hope requires an immediate decisive response—I will put one foot in front of the other. I will wake up in the morning and brush my teeth. I will make up the bed and I will breathe. [12:04.5]

I mean, for a lot of people that I deal with who are dealing with massive loss, I will coach them in that way. Just get up. Put one foot in front of the other and just breathe for it.
Friend, I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes and it, too, is from Helen Keller. There was never a night that could defeat the sunrise of hope.

Friend, we have the power within us. Please listen to me. We have the power residing within us to demand hope. May that be said, may that not only be said of us, but may we find the courage and the faith to demand an immediate and decisive response that we would take action every day, regardless of the circumstances, whether it's a failed marriage, whether we're having trouble in school, trouble in business, whether there's an illness, even regardless of whether there's a pandemic. May we make a choice to place a transformative demand up on our heart to believe for the absolute best outcome. [13:21.4]
Friend, that's called the power of hope. I want you to think about that for a while.

In the meantime. I'm so grateful that you tuned in today and let me close by asking you the most important question I can ask you: how you livin’?

I'll talk to you soon.

Are you ready to make an impact in your world right now? Do you want to stop existing and start living your best life right now? Dr. Rick wants to give you the first chapter of his bestselling book, “Lessons from a Third Grade Dropout,” absolutely free. Just go to www.RickRigsby.com/freegift to get the print or audio book right now.

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