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Hope in the time of COVID-19

In our latest blog from our on-going series on being your best self from Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi Head of Relyf's Medical Advisory Board, we dive into finding hope in trying times. Specifically, we'll dive into a practical way to create a hope equation and how to put it into practice.

During these historic and challenging times, everyone is asking the same question: Will I be okay?

You can replace “I” with your concern for your business, your salary, your family’s health or the state of our world in general. The reality is that no one really knows the answer to your question, and that can be extremely chilling. This level of uncertainty, from the brain’s perspective, is enough to send it down a spiraling trail of doom and gloom thinking.

So what’s a leader to do? Well, I’ll tell you where you should probably start. Start with hope. 

Hope has been shown to protect the brain against anxiety, and enhance physical and psychological well being, and interpersonal relationships. It also corresponds with superior psychological and physical performance.  Furthermore, research shows that leaders who are able to inspire hope within their employees are able to increase engagement by 69%, compared to only 1% of employees who feel engaged when their leaders are unable to inspire hope.

These by-products of hope strongly illustrate the value of learning how to use this trait in one’s leadership approach, as well as the degree of human capital that is lost if one does not do so. 

The Hope Equation (HE), described below, is a skillset that can be utilized by anyone, in any situation, to increase their effectiveness as a leader.

Apply the HE to help you do better, by thinking better

What is hope?

Simply put, hope is the belief that the future will be better than the present moment in a particular way, or in a specific domain, coupled with the belief you have the ability to create that change. Without this fundamental belief, one is functioning in a state of hopelessness. This, of course, is not an effective leadership strategy. 

How to create hope using the Hope Equation?

Hope = Goal(s) + Agency + Pathways


An identifiable concept or idea that you would like to achieve/ work towards. 

MINDSHIFT Questions:

  • What change would you like to see happen?
  • How is that change related to your deepest values?
  • When your goal is achieved how will that impact the people around you (family, friends, colleagues, community)? How does that make you feel?


Your capability and capacity to take action, and effect change, specifically in relation to your goal. This is at the heart of all our leadership development programs, and is the sweet spot of mindset coaching. 

MINDSHIFT Questions:

  • Who is Your Best Self (YBS)? 
  • How will YBS show up to achieve this goal?
  • Name a past successful goal that is similar to this goal. How did you effect change then? 
  • What is the story you are telling yourself about your ability to bring about change? How is that serving you?


A specific strategy formulated and reformulated, to achieve your goal. It is easy to fall victim to the idea that we need to have all the steps figured out, when in fact it is more important to understand what the next best step requires. 

MINDSHIFT Questions:

  • If you were to take one step towards realizing your goal, what would that look like?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • When will you know it is time to re-evaluate your pathway steps?
  • How can you create sustainability within your plan? 

At this point, it is imperative to mention that leaders, by themselves, cannot create a HE for the people they are interested in inspiring hope in. The most successful HE are the ones that are created in a personalized manner in addition to consistently taking action. Therefore, it is best to always deeply include the member(s) of the team you are working with to fully understand their point of view and what it means for them to create hope within themselves.  

Try these exercises to activate your hope muscles and uplevel your leadership mindset. Here’s to you doing better, by thinking better, like a leader.

Dr. Yashar Khosroshahi, ND, ACC is the Chair of the Medical Advisory Board (MAB) for Relyf and co-founder of MINDSHIFT NINJA, a Leadership Development company.

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