Are You Hoping or Choosing Your Future

Are you standing on the path of your preferred future?

When prospecting the future, people tend to make decisions based on two primary emotions: Fear and hope. Fear creeps up and causes us to scurry under pressure and desperation like the scattering of field mice. Hope, on the other hand, inspires and gives a healthy sightline in considering the way forward.


Take a breath and explore your answers to this question: “When considering your future, what are your hopes for yourself? For your family? For your team and organization? For your legacy?

While it is a fact that we can and should learn volumes of truth from our past, we should never stay trapped there. Indeed, wisdom is the superimposed learning from our past, but only to the degree that it merges into the possibilities for our tomorrow. Preferring forward is a very intentional mindset. Secure leaders are fueled by hope (as opposed to fear) with a front-facing lean pulled by aspiration for improvement. This, however, is not enough.

“Hope is not a plan.” – Anderson Cooper

The important issue is whether we take our dreams seriously, or if we regard them as blue-sky reveries without the discipline to activate a genuine plan accomplish your dream. Too often leaders prematurely drop their dreams in the interest of the critical cousins: pragmatism and reality.

A vision of a preferred future leads to hope …

            Hope leads to inspiration …

                       And, inspiration leads to commitment.

Liberating leadership is about the generation of hope exercised through empowerment, opportunity and the conditions to effectively execute upon desire.

Recently, I read a statement by author and teacher Andy Stanley that resonates with the insights above. He stated, “Path, not intent, determines destination.”

Chew on that for a minute. Regardless of your vision, dreams or narrative of good intentions, the reality falls right underneath you doesn’t it? The path that you are currently standing on, if unaltered, will determine your destination.

Does this existing path bring a sense of satisfaction? If so, congratulations and continue to press on! If not, know that you aren’t alone. Surveys over the past few years have delivered some less-than-encouraging stats – in fact, a 2010 survey found that 80% of workers express dissatisfaction in terms of their life’s work.

Max DePree began his influential book Leadership is an Art with the statement, “The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality.” That said, I would offer that the most important assignment for every leader is to define one’s desired future. The next and more important role is to establish a plan to actualize this preferred future to make it a chosen future.

“Lord save us all from…a hope tree that has lost the faculty of putting out blossoms.” – Mark Twain

Driving it Home

  1. What is the future you are both hoping AND working toward?
  2. Will your current path lead to where you would like to go?
  3. What could you do today to begin charting your chosen future?
  4. How can we help? (GiANT has some product offerings geared toward helping leaders map out paths toward their preferred futures. Visit for more information.)


Feature photo courtesy of Jay Mantri.

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