I wish I would win the lottery! I wish I would get a new car! I wish for a new….!

I hope my employee comes in with a change of heart after the holiday! I hope my employees start to work together! I hope….!

You get the idea. In many of my training sessions I speak about one of the most potent drugs on the planet “Hopium“. The phrase always gets a laugh and head nods and sometimes a heavy sigh as audience members realize this is a standard tool in their leadership toolkit. But what is “Hopium”? Wikipedia defines hope as “An optimistic attitude of mind that is based on an expectation of positive outcomes. As a verb, its definitions include: “expect with confidence” and “to cherish a desire with anticipation”.

I define “Hopium” as “wishing for something that is different” i.e., I hope people/situations/things will change. As I look at these definitions I realized that hope is similar to a wish, having a belief that may not have action behind it. So, why is this important today? Why on the last day of the year and the start of 2017 do I talk about “Hopium“?

As I look back on 2016, I recall many client conversations riddled with frustration when the topic focused on teamwork, accountability, performance results, style, etc. Most of these conversations included the statements, “I wish they would do what they are expected to do.” “I wish they would all just get along.” “I wish they would come in one day and quit.” I wish…” Each conversation ultimately focused on the role of the leader, and I asked whether they had set clear expectations for performance, results and expected behaviors for their team. Most of the time the response was “No, shouldn’t they just get it”? A clear example of “Hopium” and the answer is NO!

Things change, businesses change, customers’ needs change, products change, and employees change! These changes require the leader to clearly and succinctly communicate expectations for the business, roles and people. These are not resolutions or goals; instead this is the pathway to achieve these. As a business owner, you do whatever it takes to achieve results for your customers, but the people on the team don’t have the same investment or information.


Take this time to clearly set out the goals and desired results for your business. Then communicate the code of conduct for the business (otherwise known as your absolutes), levels of accountability and authority for each role, and expected and acceptable behaviors for the team. If gossip makes you crazy, then tell the team “We honor people who are not present and don’t talk behind others backs”.

The antidote for “Hopium” is clear, direct communication. If you hope the team will perform in a specific manner then tell them. If individuals don’t perform in that manner then you can deal with the consequences knowing that you have assumed your responsibility as a leader.

Having said all of that… I hope you have an extraordinary 2017 filled with joy, love, laughter and abundance….and to win the lottery!