“Admiral Jim Stockdale was the highest-ranking military officer in the Hanoi Hilton. He was there for, I think, seven years, from 1968 to 1974. He was tortured over twenty times. And by his own account, Stockdale came out of the prison camp even stronger than he went in. ” ~ Jim Collins, “Good to Great”
How the heck did he do that?
He learned incredible lessons while there.
He learned optimists wouldn’t make it out of captivity.
“He said, “The optimists. Yes. They were the ones who always said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ Christmas would come and it would go. And there would be another Christmas. And they died of a broken heart.” Then he grabbed me by the shoulders and he said, “This is what I learned from those years in the prison camp, where all those constraints just were oppressive. You must never ever ever confuse, on the one hand, the need for absolute, unwavering faith that you can prevail despite those constraints with, on the other hand, the need for the discipline to begin by confronting the brutal facts, whatever they are. We’re not getting out of here by Christmas.” ~JimCollins.com
Folks, preparing for the worst AND believing you can make it through is essential when challenged as he and others were.
He also believed that he was one of the lucky ones in life despite spending so many years in captivity.
He believed that because he knows he can survive that hell and you never will.
As we deal with these complicated times, we have an opportunity to apply lessons of these times to the remainder of our lives and careers.
What a gift!
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1700 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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