Create the Future You Want

How does your story affect your “here and now?”


Jay Wolf, co-founder of Hope Heals, explains that in all organizations, there is a need to “re-narrate” our mission and foundation over and over again as a way of better understanding our present lives.

He says by focusing on our behaviors and being intentional as we tell our story, we can begin to create the future we want both as individuals and organizations.

I think a lot of what we want to do in our organization in the sharing of our story of hope is to re-narrate the story of hope for our audience. Yet in all organizations, there's this profound need to re-narrate that story of hope.

We heard, recently, of this scientific experiment where a researcher took a rat and threw it in a tub of water. That rat was made to swim until it was just about drowned. Then the researcher goes in and grabs and saves the rat. Then he throws that same rat back in the water and they do some other test rats as well and let them swim, swim, swim until they've all drowned. The amazing thing is that the rat that had been saved kept on swimming and swimming and swimming for hours, because it had been given hope.

We all really need to hear the story of hope in a real way. In the microcosm of an organization, that is profoundly true that we need to tell that story and we need to tell it well. In the giving and the telling of that story of hope, we change how we view our present. A friend of ours who's a psychiatrist helped us, sort of, understand how this works in our brains. So the thing that we pay attention to is the thing that we really end up becoming, and if we're paying attention to hope, then we can become people who are hopeful and who are living in the present moment out of that sense of, "The future is hopeful." What we pay attention to is what we remember, and it's from those memories that we anticipate our future.

We, as leaders, are faced with this huge task of re-narrating the stories that we all tell ourselves, that the individuals we lead are telling themselves in their heads constantly that the organization as a whole, then, is telling itself about who it is, what its future is like. As leaders, one of the tasks we have is to re-narrate that story. It's not a simple task, necessarily, but it is one that has huge reverberations throughout the present moment of the organization and the individuals within it, and thus the future of those individuals and that organization. It's about focusing and paying attention to the things that we want to be a part of our future, and doing that with consistency, and retelling that story over and over again in a way that begins to change now how we've remembered our place and our story in our past, which then informs the way we get to approach our future.

Jay Wolf

Jay Wolf is the co-founder of Hope Heals, a ministry created to steward the story of Jay and his wife, Katherine.

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