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Tapping into the Power of the Stockdale Paradox

September 21, 2020

I’ve noticed a pattern in several leadership coaching conversations lately. Clients say relatable things like:

Some days I get caught up in the impacts of the pandemic, today’s social tensions, the economy and other personal and organizational stressors.

It can be brutal.

But then others days

I know we’ll all come through this time stronger and smarter than before.

And I think about things like, “Where’s the opportunity in this disruption?” and “Maybe this is the time to make a bold move.”

This duality reminds me of the power of the Stockdale Paradox.

James Stockdale

Jim Collins introduced many of us to the Stockdale Paradox in his book “Good To Great.” He told the story of Admiral Jim Stockdale, the highest ranking official at the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Admiral Stockdale endured a torturous seven years as a prisoner of war before being released knowing that he was stronger than when he went in.

How did he achieve this? By understanding the power of sustaining his optimism and confidence that he would prevail – while unflinchingly confronting the challenges within his current situation.

This type of grounded optimism is a powerful key to success during turbulent times.

It’s made me think, “Where’s my opportunity to tap into the power of the Stockdale Paradox?”

Where could yours be?

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