by B.J. Rogers

The clock strikes twelve on December 31st and it’s resolution time. Gym memberships sell like crazy and everyone is quitting something (smoking, drinking, eating sweets). Whatever the goal – getting in shape, living healthier – the amazing thing about the start of a new year is what a powerful example it is of our inclination to hope. Even the pessimists and cynics, on that one magical night, listen for the voices of their better angels and dare to hope that THIS will be the year that [INSERT ASPIRATION HERE]. Some will follow through, some will try valiantly, and some will barely make it to 12:05 AM!  Still, as each new year rolls in, we hold out hope.

Hope, it turns out has a mixed reputation. Some find it naïve. Yet there’s no doubt it’s powerfully motivational. Why else would millions of people spend over $70 billion annually on lottery tickets (close to $225 per American, or more than the budget of the U.S. Department of Education)? Though no one’s sure who said “hope is not a strategy,” it seems some of us missed the memo!

Strategy or no, hope is a necessity. Everything we do – the risks we take, the adventures we pursue, the simplest decisions we make – are rooted in hope. We hope things will go our way or get better. We hope our work and our lives have meaning. Without it, we risk getting overwhelmed by our complicated and uncertain world. We may not be able to live on hope alone, but we can’t live without it either. Harvey Milk, one of my heroes, spoke of the power of hope while fighting for LGBT equality in the 1970’s. He said simply and often “You gotta give ’em hope.

So, with the paint still wet on 2019, I’m jumping on the bandwagon and doubling down on a long-standing resolution: to follow the wisdom of author Brene Brown and approach every interaction with the life-changing assumption that people are doing the best they can (essentially, hoping people want to do their best – for themselves, their pets, their community). I fail at this resolution – a lot. I try hard; sometimes I succeed. Then I don’t, and it’s time to try harder.

Walking through life with this assumption infuses every encounter with more hope (and empathy). It’s actually what lies at the heart of Emancipet’s work. We believe people love their pets and will do what’s best for them when given the opportunity. That belief – really, HOPE plus certainty! – is why we do what we do, structure our services and programs as we do, and why we started Emancipet New School. We keep plugging away ‘cause we know for sure that:

  • Lots of people need help to give their pets the best life they can.
  • Just as many people are eager and willing to give that help.
  • Our team – great as it is! – will never reach everyone.
  • Providing opportunities for people to do their best calls for courageous leadership, healthy organizations, a commitment to impact, and an understanding of social change.

Every project we tackle is rooted in these things we know. And in the hope/belief that sharing what we’ve learned will make a difference

In addition to keeping hope alive, in 2019 we’re also gonna keep working to deliver top-notch opportunities to explore new ideas, learn from each other, and share tools that make it possible to sustain hope for a better tomorrow.

Even if that’s cheesy, we mean every word.

2019 holds tons of promise and possibility – and likely much turmoil and trouble. There’s no doubt every one of us will encounter opportunities to hope, to take chances, exercise leadership, and make people’s lives better. If you’re up for it, we’re here to help!

We’re kicking off 2019 with a couple of familiar sessions (Next Gen Leadership and Veterinarian to Leader) followed by some new offerings – including a two-and-a-half day leadership intensive called Courageous Leadership: Managing Change & Making a Difference. Check out what we’re up to and join us if you can. We hope to see you there! 😉


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