“The person in the room with the most hope has the most influence”.
Sometimes a statement stops you in your tracks, makes you pause and carries the possibility of shifting your point of view to such an extent that everything else you see shifts and changes. This happened to me when I was listening to Bill Johnson speaking. Bill’s words had a weightiness to them that made me pause, rewind and listen again. I wrote his words in my journal in large print, “The person in the room with the most hope has the most influence”.
As an educational leader, I have often been the person in the room with the most on my to do list; the person in the room with the most experience; the person in the room with the most concerns, the person in the room with the most responsibility, or the person in the room with the most questions…
But how often have I been the person in the room with the most hope?
Bill’s proposal that the one who carries hope into a room is the one who carries the greatest influence has caused me to significantly rethink what it might mean to live and lead with hope as my starting point. I absolutely want to positively influence others in the work I do. I want my work to add strength to those around me and to create possibilities for transforming relationships and practice. If what Bill says carries truth, then the way to journey with otherstowards transformation must start from the soil of hope.
In practice, this has led to, small but significant, changes in the way I carry myself into my conversations with others – whether that be in a meeting with other educators, speaking at a conference or chatting with one of my children as they debrief a tough day at school. In those conversations, I find myself asking internally, ‘What can hope look like in this situation and how might I give it voice in this story?’.
As I have endeavoured to live in response to this invitation, to bring hope into every situation, I must emphasise that leading and living with hope hasn’t looked like a denial of reality. For me, to lead and live with hope has required an honest and intentional embrace of the real and complex contexts and relationships we find ourselves in. Life, learning and leading is hard work and no amount of pre-packaged positivity can replace a hope that is grounded in reality and grown out of the messy (and rich!) soil of rich relationships, humility and faith in the possibility of change, growth and connection.
I invite you to join me as I continue to question what it might be like if we intentionally ground our dialogue and practice in the hope that connection and change are possible.