What’s Your Favorite Four-Letter Word?

I know what you're thinking...

Do you have a favorite four-letter word? Ask a group of people this question and I can guarantee two responses—whispers and laughter. In either case, I immediately know they are not thinking of the same four-letter word I am thinking about.

hope, encouragement, choose well, choices. leaders

I can’t say for sure we were thinking of different words because I did not ask for volunteers. Their reaction told me everything I needed to know—we had work to do.

My favorite four-letter word is a game changer. Its presence has lead to a 12 percent gain in academic performance, a 14 percent bump in workplace outcomes, and a 10 percent boost in happiness.

Leaders who possess it, live it and share it consistently produce better results. It is a better predictor of law student’s class ranking than their LSAT score. People who embrace it laugh and smile more and have a higher overall sense of well being.

My Favorite Four-Letter Word

Hope is my favorite four-letter word because it fuels impact!

Hope is living with positive and impact filled expectation. It is the ability to paint a vision of a future that inspires action in others and ourselves. Hope sees good and brings mission and purpose to life. It doesn’t ignore the reality of setbacks and disappointment but doesn’t allow them to become an obstacle. Hope paves the way for increasing personal and professional effectiveness.

The Power of Hope

The power and importance of hope has been studied and written about for years. “Man can live forty days without food, about three days without water and about eight minutes without air, but only about one second without hope.”

A word of hope rings out and can be heard above the noise of daunting and disappointing circumstances. It won’t allow defeat to have the final word. A word of hope says,

  • “I believe in you.”
  • “You’ll make it.”
  • “Press on, take the next best step.”
  • “The best is yet to come.”

Keep the Future in View

Hope keeps its eye and focus on where you want to end up. We lose hope when we lack purpose. Our purpose gets cloudy when we lack clearly defined and visible goals. We can also lose hope when our goals are so future oriented the gap between our current reality and the goal are too large.

Recently, I was working with an aspiring and talented young golfer. I asked him what his goals were. He didn’t hesitate, “Be the no. 1 player in the world and win The Masters.” At the moment of our conversation, he had been struggling a bit following a very successful freshman collegiate season.

I asked him how many collegiate tournaments he had won to date to which he replied, “None.” I knew he hadn’t won. My point was not to discourage him but to pull his focus back to what he could control and work on today.

Bring The Future Closer

I then asked him, “What would be a stepping stone or process goal on your way to your dream?” He knew I was pushing him to think about his upcoming tournaments.

Over the course of his next five tournaments he finished 14th, 7th, 20th, 4th and 2nd. In both of the last two events, he was in a position to win. When I asked Jack what the difference was it was very simple, “Focusing on what I could control.”

The Future is Now

“There are no hopeless situations; there are only men who have grown hopeless about them.” Hope doesn’t conquer obstacles and crush strongholds. It allows us to keep our eye on the finish line and know that we don’t have to finish the race today. We just need to focus on what we can control and take one positive step forward.


Hope Reading Recommendations

Making Hope Happen: Create the Future You Want for Yourself and Others by Shane Lopez, Ph.D..

You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times by Max Lucado

Hope in the Age of Anxiety, by Anthony Scioli, Ph.D..

What Does It Mean To Be All In?

It's Friday, But Sunday Is Coming

Do you ever think about what it truly means to be all in? We all have had a time in our life where we believed with our whole heart and every fiber of being that we were all in—fully committed.

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But have you ever been committed to the point that it could cost you your life? Now “all in” takes on a whole new meaning. We might certainly not hesitate to lay down our life for the sake of our spouse or one of our children. But that would certainly establish the “all in” boundary for most of us.

Do You Have What it Takes to do the Toughest Job in the World

Do you have the skills?

I was intrigued. How could anyone not be interested in understanding why even 24 people responded to the ad. The ad placement drew 2.7 million views, which is not a surprise. What was surprising was the fact that 24 people inquired about the toughest job in the world and participated in an interview.

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The job title, Director of Operations, was certainly appealing. But after a quick review of the job requirements it is easy to see why even the most ambitious candidates quickly moved on.  

You’ve Gained Wisdom When You Realize Intelligence is Overrated

Why you should choose wisdom

If you could be granted one natural gift what would you choose? What if the choice was between intelligence and wisdom? Being smart is commonly identified as being a key to success. But is smart overrated?

wisdom, intelligence, choices, choose well, growth, mindset, growth mindset, Dweck

As a kid were you frequently if ever praised for being wise? I am pretty sure if my parents would have said, “Oh, you are so wise,” I was being called out and being discouraged from whatever “not so smart” remark I had just made. 

What You Are Going to Today Matters

The most powerful legacy building question.

What if what you are working on right now is the most important project or assignment of your career? What if you didn’t know it? The truth is what you are going to do today matters because you are building your legacy.

Peter had proven himself to be the best in the business over the course of his career. He had overseen every important project his company had built for as long as anyone could remember.

Why You Need to Breathe Inspiration into the People You Love and Lead

Your words count.

It is so easy to glance over or miss the power our words have to breathe inspiration into the people we love and lead.

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Words are powerful. Organized in the right sequence, delivered in the spirit of true concern they can change the course and direction of life. 

The Unique Quality of People Who Embrace Struggle

Willing yourself to win

I loved listening to him. Zig Ziglar offered up powerful encouragement dressed up in a charming southern accent. He was a master of motivation. Zig loved to say, “You don’t pay the price, you enjoy the benefits.”

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Do you like to struggle? You might be thinking, “Does anyone like to struggle?” Surprisingly the answer is a resounding “Yes,” because the greatest achievements, discoveries and breakthroughs in history were uncovered in the face of struggle.

Three Questions Only You Can Answer

And Why We Don't Like Answering Them

Kids are natural born questioners. Fearlessly pursuing their curiosity. As kids we would ask “Why?” repeatedly and without a moments hesitation.

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Most of us wore our parents out asking why? Then as parents, we faced the same onslaught of curiosity. “Dad, why is the sky blue?” I still don’t know why the sky is blue but I do know that questions are powerful.

Everyone Wants to Be Better But You Need to Get Better

The one thing that holds the key and what to do.

Would you like to be better or get better? There is a subtle but powerful difference between the two.

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Who doesn’t want to be better—right? No one would object to waking up tomorrow and being better in every role and responsibility in their life. So asking if you want to be better is an irrelevant question because the answer is obviously yes.