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Accepting Reality…Yet Remaining Optimistic!

Taken at a recent keynote appearance at a well-known conference.

There is a phenomenon called the Stockdale Paradox written about extensively in Jim Collins famous book, ‘Good To Great’. The Stockdale Paradox is named after Admiral Jim Stockdale, who was a United States military officer held captive for eight years during the Vietnam War. Stockdale was tortured more than twenty times by his captors, and never had much reason to believe he would survive the prison camp and someday get to see his wife again. And yet, as Stockdale told Collins, he never lost faith during his ordeal: “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.”

Then comes the paradox. While Stockdale had remarkable faith in the unknowable, he noted that it was always the most optimistic of his prison mates who failed to make it out of there alive. “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”.

Stockdale approached adversity with a very different mindset. He ACCEPTED the reality of his situation, yet remained completely certain that he would prevail. He goes on to say, “You must retain faith that you will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties. AND at the same time, you must confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

In business, the reality is, you will NEVER master it. I think one of the greatest travesties in the “coaching” industry is the fallacy that all your problems are going to be solved with a few magic scripts or magic anything.

I often speak about how “every level has a new devil”, meaning as you solve one problem it simply creates another, often, even bigger problem.

The quicker you understand that this game of business and running practices is a NO DESTINATION thing, the quicker you will allow yourself to make mistakes and embrace the ride.

If you’re reading this and you’ve been in practice more than ten years you know what I am talking about. It’s hard, it’s work, it takes time, it’s a roller coaster ride, but boy if you hang in there, have patients, stick with it, you will have more personal growth than you could ever imagine…

KEY WORDS – “Trust the process”.

Love and light,


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