Do you hope—or do you believe?

I get a lot of strange looks when I tell people that I’ve eliminated the words “hope,” “luck,” and “wish” from my vocabulary.

One of the strangest came from a pastor friend.

“JT, how can you not use the word hope? Since you told me that, I counted and saw that I used it 16 times in my last sermon.”

“I understand, but here’s my question to you. Do you want your people to hope there’s a God, or do you want them to believe there’s a God?”

He blinked a few times and then said a word I thought was removed from his vocabulary.

“Damn. I hadn’t thought about it like that.”

Now, this isn’t a post about religion, but the story helps to reinforce the negative power those words can have.

It wasn’t easy for me to take hoping, wishing, and luck out of the picture. The truth is, I didn’t have a choice—and it was a hard lesson to learn.

I’ve lost count of the times I sat in the window of my mother’s apartment as a child, hoping my father would come pick me up the way he said he would.

Hoping didn’t make it so.

There were too many times that there was no food in our refrigerator, and I wished we’d have some so we could stop going hungry.

Wishing didn’t fill our bellies.

Even starting out in the working world, I’d see people more successful than me and think, “Man, they’re lucky.”

But they didn’t get there by luck.

It wasn’t until Uncle Bobby offered me those Air Jordans if I brought home a better report card that I learned the power of belief.

Belief in myself.

I realized that if I wanted those shoes, I had to work hard and believe that I could bring my grades up—they weren’t going to improve by wishing or hoping, or by anyone telling me “good luck.”

When I made those grades and Uncle Bobby kept his word, I learned the formula that I still apply to this day.

Belief = Execution.

So often in business, particularly during trying times, we put so much of ourselves into hoping and wishing things will get better—that somehow our luck will change.

Our current pandemic crisis is a perfect example.

So many companies are worried—and rightfully so—about how they’re not only going to get through this, but what the future may hold for their business.

That kind of fear can be crippling. It leads to indecision, relying on luck—hoping and wishing that their business will survive.

None of those things will get them through. Belief will.

Belief in the people we work with and in our ability to manage crises will see us through to the other side.

Belief that we’ve surrounded ourselves with people far smarter than us who can navigate the inevitable pitfalls we’re going to encounter will ensure that our businesses not only survive—but thrive.

When we believe in ourselves, we give ourselves the power to execute and achieve any goal we set and overcome any obstacle put in front of us.