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The Stockdale Paradox

Building off my post last week about assuming this will be a while. I wanted to share a quote from Jim Collin’s book, Good to Great. He was interviewing James Stockdale about his time in a POW camp:

"Who didn't make it out?"

"Oh, that's easy," he said. "The optimists."

"The optimists? I don't understand," I said, now completely confused,

given what he'd said a hundred meters earlier.

"The optimists. Oh, they were the ones who said, 'We're going to be out by

Christmas.' And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then

they'd say,'We're going to be out by Easter.' And Easter would come, and

Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas

again. And they died of a broken heart."

Part of being a great leader who makes it through tough times is balancing your optimism with realism. I’m an optimist, so it is hard.

I’ve been channeling my optimism less into “This will be over soon” to “I am making positive changes in my life so that it will be better by the end of this.” It feels so much better because I can control the latter.


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