As a young man who never went beyond the 4th grade, his future hopes were minimal:  Learn a trade and raise a family.  When he was 14 years old, his mother helped him achieve his first hope of learning a trade.  He became an apprentice confectioner learning how to make candy.  At the age of 19, he created his own candy making business.  It was not successful.  After learning more about his trade, he started a second candy business in New York City.  It also failed.  He returned home to start another business.  This one was a success.  His first hope was realized.

The second hope, however, proved even more formidable.  He and his wife were not able to have children.  While the company was like a family, he wanted more.  So he decided to transfer all of his assets in the company to a trust fund to support a school for children without parents.  Today, there is a bronze statue of Milton Hershey outside the school that owns the majority shares of the Hershey Company.  The statue is of Milton Hershey with an orphan boy in his arms.  His second hope was realized.

Everyone has hopes.  Many are superficial.  Others are wildly unrealistic.  Some are near term, while others are lifelong.  Hopes that impact who we are as persons tend to be more lifelong and are meaningful and realistic.

How we approach our hopes says a lot about who we are.  Some of us hope for things that are far below what we should expect of ourselves.  Others set hopes well beyond what is realistic.

Hopes are not static.  What we hope for at age 16 is far different than what we hope for at age 40.  At the time we approach the midpoint of a typical career, our hopes take on a new dimension.  They may be reset to other hopes that are more relevant to what we value in life.  If our hopes remain unmet, we may need to think about a Plan B in order to achieve them.

Hopes tend to also evolve from more self-serving to more public-serving.  This results from a focus of having to a focus of being.  In many cases, our hopes also become our legacy.

Think about Milton Hershey’s hopes and how they evolved, yet retained their essence.  He grew up in a poor family who didn’t have many hopes, yet Milton Hersey achieved more than anyone could have ever imagined.  How can we help those in all walks of life have future hopes when their hopes may be just to have money for food and rent?  How can we build networks of facilitators who help those with hopes for a better future?  Finally, how can we help people sustain their hopes through the many life challenges they will face?

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               “When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world.  My hope is to leave the world a little better for having been there.”
– Jim Henson (Creator of the Muppets)

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