Tuesday, December 3, 2013

How Not to Become a Prisoner of Hope

Imprisoned by your own hope?
What does being a "prisoner of hope" mean?

Have you ever been a "prisoner of hope"?

All new and starting businesses are characterized by many special things, including among them optimism and good will of its founders, and the hope that, with a lot of hard work and dedication, things will eventually work out, implemented actions will bring in positive results and business will become profitable.

And this wealth of optimism is a fantastic tool, and is absolutely necessary to get up every day with enough energy to address all the multiple actions required to put the ball in motion and keep it rolling for as long as possible.

It's definitely good to be an optimistic and hopeful person.

Of course it is, but like with all things in life, extremes are never good and maintaining an exaggerated optimism based on feeding the "hope" that all things will work out well for your business, is not a healthy attitude and can generate quite unpleasant consequences.

When you become a "prisoner" of hope?

Experts say that to be "prisoner" of something is to be deprived of freedom. Plainly and briefly: You are in a prison and can’t get out.

You can name this prison the way you want: prejudices, beliefs, false expectations, poor information, not having proper training, lack of experience, and even there comes a time when one's own hope that things will work out well, becomes our own confinement.

But the question you must be asking yourself at this point is: When hope stops being truly hoping and becomes confinement? When does it cease being positive and becomes something negative?

When hope becomes a veil covering your eyes and preventing you from recognizing what's in front of them.

When you deny the evidence that proves your business’ promotional actions are not performing as they were supposed to, therefore not being as successful as you expected them to be.

It's at that moment that, either by your own or someone else’ will, you become its prisoner.

When you hold on to something that is not working, or simply, when you hold on to your own hopes just because you need to keep them alive, you then strive to keep on doing things that are not making neither any sense nor good to your business.

How can you realize that you have been trapped by hope?

Situations can vary significantly and occur on very different environments. Here I am going to share with you those imprisoning situations I have lived myself or that I have witnessed how it has happened to other entrepreneurs, like yourself.

  • You have a client who has already signed with you a huge contract and yet, after many unsuccessful attempts on your side, it hasn’t moved any further and you haven’t been able to bring him from decision to action.
  • You have prospects who tell you "I can’t buy from you this month, but I for sure will next month, absolutely" and they have repeated the same thing to you over the last few months and yet, you continue to visit them as regularly and with the same enthusiasm as you did before.
  • Your business is not recovering and sales are not going up, despite you have followed and implemented all possible actions recommended by experts on different fields. You should face it: It might not have been the right moment!
  • You hold on to newspapers, reading them daily and regularly, hoping you’ll find on its pages an indication that things will soon improve, that government will implement a law that will favor your industry, that tax rate will be reduced, and so forth.

What’s the worst thing that happens when you become prisoner of hope?

That you are surely going to deny it!

Yes. that’s the key problem: When someone approaches to tell you that you've been imprisoned by hope, you’ll immediately come forward with fifty different excuses, all of them too delicately good, but in any case just useful to help you justify things that you're doing.

And if you don’t open your eyes, you’ll stay happily there, on your own prison.

In the same way an alcoholic person finds it difficult to recognize it has a problem, when you are a prisoner of hope, it’s truly hard for you to recognize you're immersed in that situation, just because by doing so you’ll be losing your hope that “all things will work out well”, and that you don’t want to happen. You don’t want to recognize there is no reason for you to do what you’re doing.

We have been educated under the premise "losing hope is the last thing you do" and it might probably be different on a personal level (although I'm not completely sure) but in regards to your business, your company and its development and growth, there is nothing worse than keeping it stucked into this belief.

How do you stop being a prisoner of hope?

Recognize you’ve been trapped: Like with all things in life and business, the first step is to have an open mind and be willing to accept that you're stuck in a vicious circle from which you cannot come out.
That is the first and most important thing you’ve got to do. Once you've realized you are holding on to actions that are not taking your company to where you wanted to take it from the beginning, you've won half the battle.
Evaluate all possible options available to you: Almost all problems in life and business have a solution, no matter how difficult or expensive it might be, every problem has a solution. Otherwise we wouldn’t be even talking about this.
Choose the most viable option for your specific situation and implement it, making all decisions you have to make: Once you evaluate your options and know which one is more appropriate for the particular situation of your business, it’s simply about taking action and moving forward.

Remember though decisions without actions are just really nice thoughts that lead you nowhere.

For example , if it’s about that nephew of your brother you hired for an administrative position six months ago, who still can’t find a way to do his job properly but you hold on to the hope he’ll do just fine soon and that the only thing he needs is a bit more of time. What options do you have?

  • You can help him acquire supplementary training in his specific duties and establish a timetable for him to start doing his job effectively.
  • You can talk to him, for the umpteenth time, to help him recognize the thing he needs to improve on, and then give him another chance to see if, hopefully this time, all things go as you expect them to.
  • You can let him go at once and hire another person, better qualified for the position.

You evaluate the options you have available and choose the one that is best suited to your company’s particular situation at the time.

The moment you make the decision to do something about it, you stop being a prisoner of hope.

As I told you at the beginning of this post: positive attitude and keeping a strong hope that things will turn out good for your business is always very valuable and it greatly helps you accomplish many things.

Until it no longer does. Keep it always in mind while managing your business.

Image credit: kharlamova / 123RF Stock Photo

Related post in this blog:
The Hardest Business Decision You Will Ever Make: When to Stop and Change Direction.


  1. I am going to write about being imprisoned by hope too and was doing some research on the subject. There aren't too many articles out there that address this. Thanks for the great info. I will add a link to your article as additional resources when I write my post. www.amarmielife.com

    1. You are most welcome to do so, Krista. As you said, there are not that many post about the subject, and that´s probably the reason why people run into this situation so often.

      Please, let me know when you have published your post.


    2. I published it. Love to have a comment from you. Thanks! http://www.amarmielife.com/2014/01/hope-only-floats.html