"Three things will last forever -- faith, hope, and love..." - 1 Corinthians 13:13

As I’ve been writing about the importance of grit during the last few months, I’ve realized that we cannot have grit without faith, hope, and love. They are the pillars upon which we build a happy life and a successful business.

I began this series by discussing faith, the foundation of everything we pursue. But if faith is the engine, hope is the steering wheel guiding us to where we want to go. Without hope, we are rudderless, driving in circles, searching for a destination with an unknown address.

But how does hope, a seemingly nebulous “feeling,” help us succeed in the concrete world of business?

Hope as action

Hope is much more than a warm blanket on a cold winter's night. But for hope to go beyond wishful thinking, it has to be an active process-;one we express every day through our thoughts and choices. For example, if a person says, “I hope to get in shape,” but does not follow through by changing their diet and working out, that hope will not get them very far.

Charles Snyder, a famed researcher and psychologist, explained that the three elements that make up hopeful thinking are an articulated goal, a plan, and the motivation to put that plan in motion. When we pair hope with action, we empower ourselves to build a better future out of our imagination, belief, and tenacity. As you allow yourself to hope for a specific outcome, your mind will immediately get the ball rolling, solving problems that may stand in the way.

Business is built on hope

Hope drives business. It is what inspires us to launch a new product, expand our team, or explore a new venture.

You don’t just have to take my word for it: Numerous studies have shown that hope is a key element to success in business, both on an organizational and individual level. Hope boosts morale and satisfaction and is shown to account for 14 percent of productivity in the workplace. It also instills a sense of optimism among colleagues, spurring connection and growth.

However, for our hope for the future to be sustainable, we must build systems. When we tie our hope to single, static goals, we’re forced to start over each time we achieve one of them. Instead of thinking, “How can we double our revenue,” think, “How can we grow revenue consistently?” Flashy numbers may feel good to write on the whiteboard, but our business will be much more sustainable if we build out long-term systems that support our business and what we hope to accomplish in the future.

You can also apply a hopeful mindset to career development. If you hope to advance at your company, use that hope to create an action plan. Utilize online resources, talk with your manager, and work with a mentor who can help you strategize to accomplish your goals.

When the rubber meets the road

There have been many times in my career when my future was unclear at best. In those moments, the only tools I had available were imagination and hope: I had to imagine the outcome I hoped for even when the circumstances did not yet match my vision.

In 2018, my company’s prospects looked particularly grim. My co-founder was leaving, we were out of money, and my savings were so depleted I could not pay rent at the end of the month. In a stroke of luck, I received a pay-out from a company I was associated with that had been sold. Many suggested I use the money to transition out of my company and close things down, but I held on to my hope that we could have a different future. I poured a substantial portion of my funds back into the company believing that we could forge ahead. Since that day, our revenue has grown steadily, and we have created a healthy, thriving company. Without hope, I would have thrown in the towel, and I am so grateful I didn’t. My hope for the future is what allowed me to imagine and create success even amid such challenging circumstances.

What comes after hope

Faith and hope are inherently intertwined. Faith gives you the confidence to hope for a better future, which spurs you to take the necessary action to realize it. But what comes after hope? What sustains you through the many years of hardship and triumph?

 We have the engine and the steering wheel, but what is the fuel that powers the car through each mile? In the concluding piece for this series, we’ll be taking a look at the third and final element of the trio that makes up a successful business: love.