Hope may just be the discipline you need

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Hope is not a strategy; it’s a discipline. And we can practice it every day.

I see hope at work in the world and when practiced regularly helps shape our actions.

Holocaust survivor, Edith Eger says that hope is an investment in curiosity; “choosing hope affects what gets my attention every day.” Maria Popova, cartographer of meaning in the digital age, adds an important twist that connects the thinking mind with the spirit. “Critical thinking without hope is cynicism. Hope without critical thinking is naïveté.” And, Mariame Kaba, social justice activist, educator, and organizer inspired me to think about HOW hope is a discipline.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the tyranny of now, the present, and the urgent. It’s a juicy vibe that steals our attention from what matters most to what’s noisiest. Discipline can help leaders focus on what matters most.

Using the “MVV” to ground ourselves in what matters most.

In his still relevant Harvard Business Review article, Jim Collins suggests that greatness is a matter of conscious choice and discipline. In my experience, when leaders clarify three often misunderstood or misused words, they help their organizations take the long view, fuel strategy, and embrace hope as a practice to move ahead, even (or especially) when things are uncertain.

The three words? Mission. Values. Vision – the MVV

The mission-vision-values thing can be confusing, murky, or worse, just words on paper lacking energy and inspiration. Clarifying helps leaders navigate into an uncertain future. Collins creates a matrix of meaning and action, bringing the MVV into what he calls the Vision Framework.

Here’s a quick tutorial to create your Vision Framework.

Mission: This is your core purpose. Your reason for being. It answers the question: WHY does your organization exist?

Values: What you believe and how you behave. This is the secret to culture.

Core Ideology: When you put your mission and values together, they create your “core ideology”—that which is sacred and perpetual. In other words, these statements don’t change with the wind. They are your north star—guiding you and your team forward.

Vision: Who or what are you becoming? Your org’s vision is the source of strategy. It’s the fuel for change. And it’s guided by your mission and values. Collins suggests, and we agree, that you envision your future using two building blocks:

  • Name a big focus—he calls it a BHAG – big, hairy, audacious goal
  • Describe your destiny in vivid terms—a rich description of the future

Together, these elements (mission, values, BHAG, and vivid description) make up the Vision Framework and are the foundation for your strategy. More significantly, they guide decision-making, helping you make conscious choices.

A compelling vision framework fuels hope.

So convene your team, put on your critical thinking hats, harness the wisdom of the group, and clarify your key statements. When you do, watch the wind (read: hope) catch your sails and guide you forward.

The paraphrase Woody Guthrie, let’s keep the hope machine running, friends!

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Hey there, I'm Kimberley

Welcome! I believe our social sector organizations are at the forefront of making here better. With more than 33 years of diversified fundraising and nonprofit experience, I partner with courageous organizations committed to building clarity and confidence. Let’s connect and chart your nonprofit’s path to thriving. 

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