Have you every felt bereft of hope and then tried to express that feeling of hopelessness to someone else?

Imagine the feeling you experience when your 300th job interview is unsuccessful. Or when you watch yourself spiralling deeper and deeper into debt. Like a boulder of fear pressing on ones very existence, we feel helpless to fight back.

Without hope we are grounded, unable to move forward. Our way is blocked. We’re in the dark without a map or staring up at an Impossibly High Wall that we believe we just can’t climb over.

‘Nothing can be done without hope and confidence’

– Helen Keller

Impossibly High Walls

In Rwanda I found myself in countless conversations with young graduates, who shared with me what their Impossibly High Walls felt like.

  • “Working the land is backbreaking and will keep me poor, like my parents….but I have no choice”
  • “I gave up my education and my dreams to pay for my brother to go to university…now I have no dreams left”
  • “Even if I finish my degree, there will be no chance of getting a teaching job, as 500 people apply for each vacancy”
  • “Everyone in my family is waiting for me to feed them. I want to run away to the city, because I don’t know what to do”

Every day, as I travelled to our training venue, I watched the harsh reality of daily life from the car window – whole families tilling acres of rock hard soil by hand and young children walking miles with jerry cans to queue for water. And, I imagined the inter-generational hopelessness, alive and well in every community.

‘Hope is being able to see that there is light, despite all of the darkness’

– Desmond Tutu

How do we fight the darkness of Hopelessness?

Rwanda has a youth population of over 7 million, 0-24 year olds.  It has an emerging economy and a breath-taking vision, set by the President Paul Kagame.  It will create 1.6 million jobs by 2020.

The nation itself has an unimaginably high wall to scale.  It will require everyone to play his or her part in that journey and LEAD themselves to become business entrepreneurs and job generators.

So, what weapons are at their disposal to stand firm when Hopelessness screams at them?  Hopelessness says that nothing can change, insisting, ‘You can’t! Remember, nothing ever works out for you’.

When our nose is up against that Impossibly High Wall and we want to give up, toss in the towel and slump in a heap, how do we find courage to LEAD ourselves over our massive life challenges?

What can we do?

Fighting hopelessness

We can fight back by…

  1. Telling yourself, “I have amazing potential…there is so much more of me” – I tell myself the truth
  2. Knowing that if I change my thinking I will change my life – I can literally train my thoughts and learn to think differently about every situation
  3. Believing that I am a Leader – I wake up to the fact that I am the leader of my own life
  4. Trusting my extraordinary creative mind to problem solve – I believe in my creative brain to work things out.
  5. Being confident that I am not alone – I knit ‘partners’ into my life, because I know that I am stronger when ‘we’ work on problems together

Are the walls still there? Yes, of course. Do life’s colossal challenges have the power to slay us all? Yes, for sure.

But no matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible.

The 730 Rwandan graduates at the Leadership & Entrepreneurial training run by Emerging Leaders, learnt that the journey to a changed life starts by awakening and rekindling HOPE in their amazing potential.

However, their potential isn’t ‘out there’ somewhere, in some random location, but within every one of them, waiting to be called to.

And all that we need is waiting for our courage to spark the desire to believe that the world is waiting for us to be the answer to all we face.

A story from Clema

Clema felt hopeless about herself and her family who lived in a very rural and poor area. They were all looking to her and she felt a massive weight of responsibility. After the training she wrote to me, saying:

I have started changing things at my home, by creating a closer family, where every member keeps an eye on each other. We love each other, but I need to pull them closer as they are young and need more support.  I have decided to use my degree to start home tutoring right now. I’ve started to save some money, which I never did before and I’m preparing to migrate to an urban region as my home is in a very very rural area.  I am taking actions with my life now, not waiting in hopelessness.

– Clema