at the top is a box with the words The Stockdale Paradox. The box below to the left says, Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. The box to the right says, Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Freedom Friday: We’re Not Getting Out By Christmas; Deal With It!

Admiral Jim Stockdale, was the highest ranking United States military officer in the “Hanoi Hilton” prisoner-of-war camp during the height of the Vietnam War. Tortured over 20 times during his eight-year imprisonment from 1965 to 1973, Stockdale lived out the war without any prisoner’s rights, no set release date, and no certainty as to whether he would even survive to see his family again. He shouldered the burden of command, doing everything he could to create conditions that would increase the number of prisoners who would survive unbroken, while fighting an internal war against his captors and their attempts to use the prisoners for propaganda. At one point, he beat himself with a stool and cut himself with a razor, deliberately disfiguring himself, so that he could not be put on videotape as an example of a “well-treated prisoner.”

After his release in 1973, Stockdale became the first three-star officer in the history of the navy to wear both aviator wings and the Congressional Medal of Honor

When Jim Collins, author Good to Great” met with Admiral Stockdale, he wanted to know how on earth did he survive his imprisonment when he didn’t know if he was going to live or not?”

“I never lost faith in the end of the story,” he said, when I asked him. “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which, in retrospect, I would not trade.”

Collin’s asked, “Who didn’t make it out?”

Oh, that’s easy,” Stockdale said. “The optimists.”

“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.”

“This is a very important lesson. You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

“We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”

For the entire interview between  Jim Collins and Admiral Jim Stockdale, talking about “The Stockdale Paradox” (http://jobtransition.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/The-Stocksdale-Paradox-from-Good-To-Great.pdf

[image description: at the top is a box with the words The Stockdale Paradox. The box below to the left says, Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. The box to the right says, Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.]

at the top is a box with the words The Stockdale Paradox. The box below to the left says, Retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. The box to the right says, Confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.