...Medal of Honor recipient ADM James Stockdale was held prisoner for more than seven years during the Vietnam War. He was tortured multiple times, kept in isolation and had no knowledge when his captivity would end or if he would be killed by his captors. Throughout this period of captivity he was well aware of the grim outlook that his situation held, however throughout these dark times he held on to the indisputable fact that everything would work out in the end.
While Stockdale had remarkable faith in the unknowable, he noted that it was always the most optimistic of his prisonmates 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.” The Stockdale Paradox[iv] can be summarized as so:
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.The Stockdale Paradox is found in the business book "Good to Great", which I have read a portion of, with considerable skepticism. But I do think there is something to the Stockdale Paradox.