Optimism Can Either Harm or Help Us

Admiral James Stockdale of the United States became famous in 1973 for a concept known as the Stockdale paradox. Stockdale was captured by the Vietnamese in 1965 and imprisoned for 8 years until 1973, during which time he was tortured over 20 times. All of the other US soldiers imprisoned with him gradually lost it, but he never did. When he returned to the United States, he was questioned about his experience. "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 never trade," he replied. "So who didn't make it out?" he was asked. "Oh, that's easy," Stockdale replied. "The optimists. They were the ones who said we would be out by Christmas, but Christmas would come and Christmas would go. Then they'd say we would be out by Easter, but Easter would come and go, and Thanksgiving and Christmas again, and they would eventually die of a broken heart." This is a great lesson as it teaches us the importance of maintaining an unwavering faith that we can and will prevail in the end, no matter the difficulties, and at the same time have the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of our current realities. We are more likely to succeed and achieve our goals if we embrace this concept in our daily lives. 



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