Hope creates room for possibilities

We cannot control everything, but we have hope.


Bob Vavra, Content Manager, Plant EngineeringAt a certain point in our lives, we awake to find there is far more life behind us than ahead of us. Peering through the mist of time, it's harder to see our achievements, and yet somehow our bungled changes and bad breaks stand out. It's no easier when we look forward either, because those moments have yet to be created. They are equally hazy. Worse yet, we can't see the end. And so here we are, caught between the haze of the past and the fog of the future.

At the end of each year, the tendency is to look back and see what we've achieved, and what opportunities we've missed. Perhaps it's good to take stock of those moments. We need a way to account for our failures, but also to celebrate those moments of grace and kindness, of achievement and excellence.

I'm always amused by the human animal's propensity to fixate on failure. We have vast news cycles and a network of real and pseudo thinkers all telling us what's wrong with our world, and how if we'd just listen to them, we can fix it. We get overwhelmed by failure and uncertainty and confusion and conflict. Yet there is so much that was good this past year, so many moments that lifted our spirits and raised our hope.

Hope. The most powerful emotion a human can possess, in my view, is hope.

Hope creates room for possibilities. Love is impossible, achievement is impossible, success is impossible without the hope that things will improve. Hope solves nothing by itself. It requires you to turn hope into action, to turn action into achievement, and achievement into sustained success.

Hope is not wishing, as in "I hope things will get better." Hope is an emotion we control, as in "I have hope things will get better." We possess hope; it does not possess us. And as we stand in that fog between a lengthening past and a finite future, it is hope that propels us forward. Hope requires us to act, but it also gives purpose to our actions, and defines out attitude as we act. It is the counterbalance to the negative events of our lives, especially those not of our own making.

Scarlett O'Hara was driven by every other emotion a human can concoct-greed, lust, fear, sorrow. At the very end, all she had was hope. At the end of "Gone With The Wind" she concludes, "Tomorrow is another day."

When we review our year in manufacturing, we see all that has been achieved-growth and prosperity for the sixth straight year. We should not be deterred by those who want more growth and more prosperity. We have achieved a great deal in 2014.

I know this because I spent time talking with a lot of people in 2014 in all areas of manufacturing. They all told me roughly the same thing: "We're concerned about health care and government and global economic-but we've never been busier." They have put aside the distractions and the things they cannot control, and they have focused on their core business: their employees, their market, their customers. And they succeeded.

We highlight two such companies in the 2014 Top Plant award winners. One is a small coffee company from Ontario which grew its business by a factor of 15 in 2014 without losing its core values or its productivity. The other is a manufacturing of pipes and piping systems which attached a deficiency in safety and has now achieved recognition from OSHSA for its safety practices.These companies and others like it didn't hope for improvement. They had hope. They turned that hope into action.

As we all step forward into 2015 and into the years beyond, we have the choice of spending our time pondering at a past we can neither change nor control, or turning forward and facing our challenges with hope and confidence and resolve. We have the technology, the clear understanding of what we can achieve. We know the path to success. We've seen it work, and we are encouraged by others who also have made it work. We believe in ourselves, our people and our plan. It's all right there in front of us. We cannot control everything, but we have hope.

- Bob Vavra, Content Manager, Plant Engineering, bvavra@cfemedia.com

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
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Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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