The only survivor of a shipwreck woke up on the beach of a small uninhabited island in the middle of the ocean.  Every day he circled the island, looking for ships on the horizon, and searched the sky for planes, hoping for a rescue.  But none ever came.

So he scrounged around for materials to build a small hut to protect himself from the sun and rain.  His daily schedule included scavenging and hunting for food.  He kept a small fire going so he could cook whatever he found.

After his walk around the island one day, he returned to find his hut in flames.  A gust of wind had blown some embers from his fire that ignited the hut.  Black smoke billowed in the air and try as he might, he couldn’t douse the fire.  He collapsed, exhausted and dejected.  He had lost all hope.

But the next day he awoke to find a ship anchored off the island.  A life raft was headed his way!  He would be rescued at last!

When he reached the ship, he asked the captain, “What made you stop here?  I have been looking for a ship for months and saw none.”

The captain replied, “We saw the smoke from the fire you built.  It led us right to you.”

What had seemed hopeless was what saved him.

Hope sees the invisible, feels the intangible and achieves the impossible.  In short, hope changes everything.

My dear friend Lou Holtz always says you need four things in your life, otherwise you are going to have a tremendous void.  Number one, everyone needs something to do.  Number two, everyone needs someone to love.  Number three, everyone needs someone to believe in.  And number four, everyone needs something in their life to hope for.

What do you want to do?  You have to have hope, ambition and dreams.


My wish, dream and hope, aside from being a professional golfer, was to own my own factory.  I didn’t know what I would manufacture, but I always hoped to be able to walk the factory floor and be able to have my employees look up to me.

But I didn’t wait for it to fall in my lap.  I acted on that hope and made my dreams come true.

President Dwight Eisenhower, a highly accomplished man by any standard, told this story about his hopes and dreams:  When I was a small boy in Kansas, a friend of mine and I went fishing and as we sat there in the warmth of the summer afternoon on a river bank, we talked about what we wanted to do when we grew up.

“I told him that I wanted to be a real major league baseball player, a genuine professional like Honus Wagner.  My friend said that he’d like to be president of the United States.  Neither of us got our wish.”

The dictionary defines hope as “wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen.”

Just because something isn’t happening for you right now doesn’t mean it will never happen.  Hope is the little voice you hear whisper “maybe” when it seems the entire world is shouting “no.”

Believing in the future helps us to have hope.  “Hope is greater than history,” said American businessman and diplomat Dwight Morrow – more than a century ago.  Don’t let the idea that history repeats itself discourage you.  You can shape your own history if you have hope.

Consider these words from naturalist Jane Goodall:  “I carry a few symbols with me because sometimes you get a bit depressed, and these symbols remind me of the hope that there is in the world.  Without hope, we all fall into apathy; without hope, there is no hope.  I carry symbols that represent four reasons for hope:  the human brain, with the technology that we are now working to try to live in greater harmony with the environment; the resilience of nature – give nature a chance and it’s amazing how places that we’ve destroyed can bloom again; the tremendous energy, commitment, excitement and dedication of young people once they know what the problems are, and we empower them to act to do something about it.  And finally, the indomitable human spirit, those people who tackle impossible tasks and won’t give in, those people who overcome tremendous physical disabilities and lead lives that are shining inspiration to those around them.”


Mackay’s Moral:  Hope is what allows us to remember yesterday’s disappointments and still look forward to tomorrow. 

About the author Harvey Mackay

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.

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