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..