The Stockdale Paradox

For his fantastic book “Good to Great,” Jim Collins and a team of highly educated researchers spent years distilling down what made the difference between good companies and great companies. They created stringent criteria and found only eleven companies that met the bar.

A major part of what made the difference was the kind of leadership that was helming the organizations at the time of their transition.

We’re all leaders. Of businesses, companies, and families.

There are a number of leadership qualities that get explored in the book. But I want to share one in particular. Because I believe it speaks to something we can hold onto during these new and strange times.

The Stockdale Paradox – and thanks to Ian Dahlberg for originally bringing this to my attention.

Named after an incredible man named Admiral Jim Stockdale – a former Vice Presidential candidate who had survived severe torture as a POW during the Vietnam War – it holds two essential but contradictory concepts in play at the same time.

When asked how he was able to live through such a horrific experience, Admiral Stockdale explained…

“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.”

In other words, we must face the brutal facts of our situation. But we must never lose faith that we will come through and succeed in the end.

As the coming days, weeks, and months unfold, let’s keep buoying each other with the spirit that we’ll all prevail. And also speak up about our brutal facts and who and what we need.

In solidarity.

Share this post


Featured Articles

Stay in Touch With Us

Sign up for our blog updates where we share valuable networking and sales tips.