Living in hope

Karen Middleton on looking back with pride and forward with hopefulness

CSP CEO Karen Middleton
Living in Hope CSP CEO Karen Middleton

As we enter December I imagine that many of you are – like me – wondering where this year has gone at the same time as feeling like 2020 seems to be going on forever. 

This paradox is symptomatic of a momentous year for our profession, for healthcare, society and for the world’s population. It’s been a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

My sense is that all CSP members have a great deal to be proud of in this centenary year of our Royal Charter. The whole profession has stepped up in lots of different ways and at great personal cost. 

I heard many of these stories at vPUK and was humbled.

Being in the middle of a second wave of the pandemic provides little chance for reflection, but do take whatever opportunity you can – both to learn the lessons that are undoubtedly there, but also to celebrate the successes, the innovations and the resilience we have seen in abundance this year. 

And I do hope as many of you as possible get some well-deserved time off as the holiday period ends the year. Though I suspect many will not and some will certainly have their plans curtailed.

I suggest that starting 2021 with the usual dose of hope and good intention will also be difficult, but the value of hope is enormous at times like this and leaders and managers need to use it to their advantage.

I am the first person to say that ‘hope is not a strategy’: it won’t, alone, get you to where you need to be (or your team, service or organisation) but it will help you to chip away at the obstacles of reality and impossibility (check out the Apollo13 film and the NASA flight director’s use of hope).

CSP members use hope every day with patients, with the public and with students. Part of the way you inspire people to overcome what seems impossible is with hope. You create expectation of a particular outcome, trusting that they will be able to deliver or achieve in spite of the barriers.

Hope is the feeling of what is possible. 

It will often meet the emotional needs of your patients or students in the same way it will meet the needs of your staff, team or organisation. And it is their emotions that will be up and down right now during this pandemic, so providing hope will help.

But it does need to be aligned with your vision, strategy and engagement of your organisation – it cannot simply be optimism that ‘it’ll be alright in the end’ and it cannot just be your own confidence, which is pretty self-centred and not necessarily transferable. Hope is different.

So look back on 2020, feel proud of what you have achieved and learnt about yourself and look forward to 2021 with hopefulness. 

I know the profession will continue to change people’s lives and will continue to adapt and thrive, not just survive this pandemic. 

Yes, we have much to do and problems to address, but our core skills put us in an excellent position to do so as long as we keep our eyes and hearts open to what is possible.

Contact Karen to discuss this or any other issues at

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