In the book “The Conservative Heart,” economist Arthur Brooks introduced the concept of “practical hope.”
He suggested many of us hope “passively.” Passive hope is when you hope to win the lottery. You hope for lucky things. You hope for health. You hope for good weather. You get the point. We can hope for things even if we can’t see how that hope is fulfilled. That’s passive hope.
Brooks says people are trying to get somewhere and are more likely to succeed when they have a “practical hope.” He says such hope has two features:
- There is a clear path defined for the “goal” hoped for.
- Those striving to achieve the goal have the “agency” to accomplish it. Agency means resources. Agency means ability. Agency means aptitude. If you have agency, you have a chance. If you don’t have agency, you don’t have hope.
I see this concept of “practical hope” as a good coaching tool. Suppose you have a friend or colleague who is struggling to find their way. “Practical hope” gives you a place to start.
Here are the questions:
What path are you on? Where are you headed? What obstacles are in your way?
What do you need to get there? Are you using all the resources available to you? Who is available to help?
“Practical hope” is a “happening to the world” quality. It causes you to consider where you are going. It causes you to consider the cost of getting there. It inspires you to begin the journey.